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The typical employee retains his or her job at the will of the employer. The "employment at will" doctrine is a legal rule that protects the employer from actions for firing persons without written job contracts. The doctrine permits an employer to fire an employee for any reason (absent prohibited discrimination), no reason, with or without notice, explanation or severance pay.

In other situations, due process requires notice and hearing. Individuals with employment contracts or working for public and government agencies must receive adequate notice of the termination, an explanation, an opportunity to answer or defend the reasons given and the right to a hearing on the matter.

If the employee has a contract, such as a public school teacher, he or she has a property interest in the job and the termination must follow the contract's specific provisions as well as due process requirements. If the contract allows termination for only the reasons listed, provides for timely notice and a salary payment for the remainder of the contract, those terms must be followed. Additionally, due process requirements allowing for an appeal and a hearing on the termination must be fulfilled.

My teenage daughter works at the mall and has been fired without any notice. Does she have any rights?

No. It would be extremely rare for your daughter to have any contract, and since she is not a victim of discrimination, the employer has the right to terminate her employment.

I worked at music store and have been fired. I was the only white employee. Was I not discriminated against and wrongfully terminated?

No. You are not a minority. Only members of a protected class, such as minorities, women, the disabled and individuals over 40 can complain of discrimination in your situation.

I am a clerk employed by a city. Can I be fired without notice or explanation?

Probably not. Special laws requiring "due process" cover government or public employees.