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Firing a ‘That’s not in my job description’ complainer

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in Employment Law,Firing,Human Resources

Q. The owner of our company recently fired an employee who refused to run a business-related errand. The employee said running errands wasn’t in his job description. Can he sue us for wrongful termination? — L.D., Arizona

A. If the employee was employed at-will—as most nonunion employees are—you can fire him for a good reason, a bad reason or for no reason at all. That means firing the employee for refusing a request to run an errand would be lawful since employers are permitted to fire at-will employees for insubordination.

The only limitation: The reason for the termination can’t be based on illegal discrimination (such as the employee’s race or age), retaliation for reporting illegal discrimination or violations of public policy (such as filing a workers’ comp claim or reporting illegal activities or unsafe conditions). A termination could be considered wrongful if it was for one of these reasons.

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