Employment Law/Fired


QUESTION: Okay this is a long question that I'm asking on behalf of my son. He does not have Internet access now.

He lives in Mississippi which is a right to work state and is 27 years old. Last Friday he was fired from his job with a large accounting firm in Jackson. He had a stellar record with them and even got a $3k bonus last summer for his job performance. He was not there long enough for a raise so they just gave him a bonus.

He and a few co-workers were working in Knoxville week after last and one evening after work (after hours) the group of 4 went to Newk's for dinner. His manager brought up a conversation about seeing a woman breast feeding, uncovered on the last trip they were they were on up there. Basically they were all laughing and joking around about it. I know, immature guys. Someone in the group says "We should go there for dinner; no telling what we might see at night." Again, silly I know. Then my son apparently said, "Well let's not take Jean (older, strange eccentric lady in the group that was not there) as she might whip a boob out."

He was fired the next day but was given no reason whatsoever. He only found this out because another co-worker was called in and asked if he said "Boob" and if it offended her. She told them that  no it didn't as they were all joking around.

My question is do they have the right to fire him for saying boob after hours on their on time?

Thanks for your time.

ANSWER: First of all if it offended someone than yes they could fire for this reason. However, they did not tell him it was for this reason so he has no proof that is why he was fired. Even if it is after work if you are at a lunch meeting or an evening meeting over dinner with co workers you have to watch what you say.

Let me explain how the law works in a right to work state. I live in a right to work state. The Employee may leave anytime he wishes without a reason and the employer may let someone go anytime without a reason. This is the "Right to work law."  The only reason that the employee cannot be let go is if it is a discriminatory reason based on color, nationality, gender, age or sexual orientation.

Since your son got good reviews, it is probably why he got fired. Doe he has grounds to file a complaint for unlawful termination, I don't think so, not in a "Right to work State."

If he feels he has cause to file a claim he should call his local department of Labor and talk to them about it. they will let him know if he can file a claim or not.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Should he apply for unemployment benefits? I'm sure the unemployment will do an investigation. Does he stand a chance of receiving some financial help?

ANSWER: I would suggest he go sign up for unemployment and they will investigate. While a right to work state allows an employer to fire without a reason if no reason is given the employee is generally allowed to draw unemployment.

It forces the employer to fill out paperwork explaining why the employee was let go or to default and allow the employee to draw unemployment.

If he was not given a reason for being fired than that is all I would put on the form for unemployment and I would not say anything about the dinner or the conversation. That was not given as a reason for the firing.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I talked to him just now and he had already applied and like you suggested he told them only what was said when they told him "It's time for us to part ways."  The "boob" part was hear say from another employee. Although I understand that he shouldn't have said what he did I think they were out to get him and that was just something that could protect them if he decided to sue. I think it's a very flimsy excuse. I think he was targeted by the manager (who is 30 years old). Large accounting firms are very cut throat. Everybody is trying to climb to the top and are littered with folks that will do anything if they see someone else getting in the way. Just my thoughts. Hopefully they'll allow him to draw a few weeks of unemployment to get his head straight and to decide what he's really meant to do.

It has been a very low blow for my son. He is travelling today to Dallas to take the Johnson O'connor Aptitude test. After grad school he took a job in NYC as an Auditor and has never been happy doing that type of work. But he feels stuck. Every time he applies for a job they want him to work as an Auditor.

Okay, a little off point there. Just a worried mom needing to vent. You have been wonderful!!! Thanks

I have one suggestion as an HR Professional. We have hired at our corporation some of those that studied accounting and just did not work out in an accounting firm. We hire accounting people to do sales tax, income taxes, even payroll managers. He might have to start at a bit of a salary decrease, but it would be worth it. Tell him to apply at corporations instead of accounting firms. Corporate accountants , CFO's , Accounting Directors all work for Corporations. They do not do auditing, we hire someone from an accounting firm to do that.

Have him look at some of these jobs with the descriptions and requirements I think he might be surprised at what is out there for him. He does not have to work for an accounting firm to work in the field of accounting.






There is so much more to accounting than just being an auditor. Have him explore other jobs open to those with an accouting degree. Even state and the federal government need accounting jobs done and they are not auditing.


Employment Law

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Shirley McAllister, CPP, PHR


I can answer questions about payroll laws and payroll tax laws and Human Resource laws and agencies. I can answer federal payroll and human resource law questions and most states; I do not have a knowledge of the local taxes for cities and counties within the state. If and when I can I will try and send you the website where you can reference the answer and where you can obtain more information as well as a contact number if needed for that particular agency. Some agencies I have worked with are IRS, Department of Labor (federal and state), Revenue Canada (and provincial governments), Inland Revenue, OSHA (0ccupational Safety and Health Administration); Social Security Administration and National Child Support as well as other agencies in Payroll and Human Resources. Some Laws I am particularly familiar with are FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act), FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act ) , QDRO's, QMCSO's, and other support orders and garnishments, USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment and Remployment Rights Act,PPA Act (Pension Protection Act of 2006, As well as most other employment type acts. I am also well versed in the Title V Civil Rights Act and the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).


30 years in Payroll and Human Resources

SHRM (Society of Human Resources) APA (American Payroll Association) DOLEA (Department of Labor Employers Association) CPA (Canadian Payroll Association) NAPW (National Association of Professional Women) The Mentoring Network

PHR Certification in Human Resources CPP Certification in Payroll in U.S. Payroll Administrator and Payroll Supervisor certification in Canada

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.