You make a mistake at work. It’s definitely your fault, and a customer does not get their product on time because of you. While you feel bad about it, you definitely do not expect to get fired.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens. You’re floored. They tell you that you’ll be done at the end of the week and that’s it. You have to clean out your desk.
Is this legal? It was your first mistake. You never got a single warning. They were happy with your performance up until that moment. Can they just fire you?
It depends. Legally speaking, if you’re an at-will employee, there is no law saying they have to give you warnings. They can let you go whenever they want. If that’s after one mistake, so be it. That’s legal.
That said, your company may have its own policies. One of the most common is stolen from America’s favorite pastime: the three-strike rule. One mistake won’t get you fired, but a string of them will.
Another thing to consider is whether you signed an employment contract. If you did, it may contain details about how and why you can get fired. Your employer is legally obligated to follow the contract and/or the company policies, even if there is no law saying that you get any amount of warnings.
Do you think that your employer did violate your rights by ignoring the policies that were clearly communicated to you, or by violating the terms of the contract? If so, that may be a wrongful termination, and you need to know what steps to take.