Employment Law/Termination


mentioned (in an email) to my employer on Oct. 2, 2013 that I was planning to retire at the end of the year. (I thought this would be a courteous thing to do as I would have to train another nurse.)I have just been told that I will be terminated on Oct. 30 and that "this is policy once one has given notice." My status is RNBSN in a retirement community. I am a PT hourly wage earner.


I'm sorry to hear that your employer takes such an unfriendly attitude toward employees who do as you did, in an effort to assist in the transition once you retire.  However, while the employer has the legal right to do this in an "at-will employment" state such as Virginia, you should at least satisfy yourself that there is in fact a written policy which is consistently applied in similar situations.  You might, for example, discover that the policy is applied in various ways to various people, which could possibly indicate unlawful discrimination against you, depending on a number of other facts we don't yet know.  Suppose someone much younger than you are gave similar advance notice and was not terminated at the end of the month.  Other things being equal, that could be enough to establish what we lawyers call a "prima facie case" of age discrimination.  The same sort of reasoning could apply if the policy was not applied in the same way to a male employee, or to someone of different race or national origin from you.  Is there someone in the HR office you could talk to about this?  If so, I encourage you to do so.  

I am assuming you are not a member of a collective bargaining unit, but if you are, there may also be contractual restrictions on the alleged "policy" which could protect you in some fashion from being summarily dismissed.  You should immediately contact your union representative if you have one.

In any event, I also encourage you to consult with an experienced employment lawyer in your area to get a more detailed review of your circumstances and advice on how to proceed.  A lawyer could handle any needed communication with the employer on your behalf and probably be more effective in obtaining relevant information from them, if they are reluctant to tell you directly, or if you just don't feel comfortable approaching management or the HR team yourself, for whatever reason.

If you do not know an employment attorney, you can find one through your local city or county Bar Association by doing an Internet search on the city and county name, plus the words "bar association referral."  This will get you to web sites where you can get contact information for lawyers near you who specialize in the area of employment law.  Most lawyers will do an initial consultation either without charge or at a very reasonable cost to you.

I hope this is helpful, and wish you the best in resolving this situation satisfactorily.  Also, congratulations on being ready to retire!  

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Frank C. Magill


I can answer questions about any U.S. labor or employment law question. I cannot answer questions about non-US law. I am not a specialist in employee benefit law (ERISA and HIPAA) or Workers' Compensation law, but will do my best to point questioners toward good resources availabe online. Expertise includes, without limitation, EEO/Affirmative Action/Employment discrimination (Title VII, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans With Disabilities Act, GINA, Fair Credit Reporting Act as applied to employment); Fair Labor Standards Act; Texas labor code; Family Medical Leave Act; employee compensation; discipline and dismissal; force reductions, severance pay programs and administration; collective bargaining, union representation, grievances and arbitration, National Labor Relations Act and National Labor Relations Board; employee handbooks; staffing; dispute resolution outside of traditional labor agreements; employee communications; employment policies and compliance programs; codes of ethics; employment or labor litigation.


30+ years experience as corporate counsel for a Fortune 100 telecom company, specializing in labor and employment law issues. In addition to providing day-to-day advice to my company's internal HR leadership and staff, I've represented the company in numerous labor arbitration cases and at the bargaining table.

Texas, Illinois and Missouri state bars

J.D. 1979, Harvard Law School. B.A., Summa Cum Laude, 1976, Illinois Wesleyan University.

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