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Reasons of Dismissal

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Most US states have adopted the at-will employment contract that allows the employer to dismiss employees without having to provide a justified reason for firing, although the variety of court cases that have come out of "at-will" dismissals have made such at-will contracts ambiguous. Often, an at-will termination is handled as a "layoff". Sometimes, an employee will be dismissed if an employer can find better employees than the incumbent, even if the fired employee has not technically broken any rules. This is common with probationary employees who were recently hired, but who cannot adjust to the environment of the workplace, or those who have been around for a long time, but can be replaced with a less experienced employee who can be paid a lower salary. On the contrary, a dismissal in France is subjected to a just cause and a formal procedure.

Some examples include conflict of interest, where the employee has done nothing wrong, but the presence of the employee on the employer's payroll may be harmful to the employer. For example:

A close relative (spouse, sibling, child or parent) of a member of the executive management of a company might not be able to work for a competitor where they could know trade secrets or where they themselves are part of the other company's executive management due to requirements for competition or antitrust prohibitions.
This may be the case when two members of the same family become employed by the firm.
In other cases, those who report wrongdoing in the workplace, known as whistle blowers, put their job at risk because they might be retaliated against.
More common reasons for firing include attendance problems, insubordination (talking back to a manager or supervisor), drinking or doing illegal drugs at work, or consuming the same substances before work and showing up to work while intoxicated or "high" (an especially serious problem in jobs where the worker drives a vehicle, boat or aircraft or operates heavy machinery) or off job-site conduct. Attendance problems include frequent absenteeism or tardiness, or even worse, the "no call, no show" in which an employee does not come to work and fails to notify the employer. Other attendance problems involve improper taking of breaks, such as taking extended or unauthorized breaks, failure to return from breaks in a timely manner, or walking off the premises or job site without approval from the supervisor.

Work performance problems can lead to termination even with good attendance at a job. An employee may be fired if their work performance does not meet the employer's standards. Some of these issues may be lack of necessary skills required to perform duties, incompetence, failure to learn the required skills or processes, neglect of maintenance or safety procedures, refusal to perform duties, laziness, or negligence. Conduct problems can lead to firing if they continue over a long period. Behavioral issues may include unprofessional manners (especially in customer service jobs), constant or gross insubordination, inability to properly relate (i.e., get along) with co-workers, customers or both, arguing with supervisor, co-workers or customers, use of foul language while at work, and sleeping while on duty. With these conduct problems, the firing is frequently (but not always) part of a "progressive step" process, meaning the employee will have been warned and given an opportunity to improve before more severe measures are taken.

Gross misconduct offenses can lead to immediate firing without any further warning. Gross misconduct includes damaging work equipment through negligence; discovery of false information on the job application (such as résumé fraud), fighting or brawling at work; harassment of other employees, such as sexual or racial harassment; use of employer's equipment (e.g. vehicles and computers) to engage in non-work-related activity or other violations of employer policies, illegal activity, or to view pornography; testing positive for illegal drug usage; failure to submit to a mandatory drug test (especially for transportation or heavy equipment-related jobs such as machine operators); engaging in illegal activities on the job (such as embezzlement or illegal subordinate harassment); or cheating the employer out of wages by "padding" a time sheet.

In some cases, an employee's off-the-job behavior could result in job loss. A common example is drunk driving, especially if the employee's principal responsibilities require driving. Often, an employee getting charged with a crime will affect the employer's ability to trust the employee. Whether off-the-job criminal charges will result in termination relates to several factors, including the nature of the offense, the nature of the job, and the values of the employer. In some types of jobs, minor convictions that are not related to the job activities may not lead to termination; a ditch digger who works with a shovel who is convicted of drunk driving may not lose their job, while a food delivery driver who is convicted of drunk driving will lose their job. However, in some jobs, the perception of trust is very important, so even a non-job-related conviction, however minor, will result in termination, as in the case of banks, security firms, and schools. Another factor is the values of the employer; while some employers may believe that an employee should have a "second chance", other employers may have no tolerance for convicted individuals in their company, even if the employee has very little responsibility, as in the case of a manual labourer.

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