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Getting Fired

Last updated June 2013

When can I be fired?

Many workers get hired and they do not get a contract. If you have a contract, there may not be an end date. If you and your boss did not agree about when you would stop working, she can fire you for almost any reason. Often, she does not have to give you any warning.

Some workers have contracts. If your contract says that you can only be fired for certain reasons, and your boss fires you for another reason, she is breaking the law.


Your boss cannot fire you because you are protecting your rights at work. Sometimes people get fired because the boss thinks you know about something that is illegal at work. This is called “retaliation”. It is illegal for your boss to retaliate because you talked or wrote about a problem. See Defending Your Rights.

It is also illegal for your boss to fire you because of your age, disability, national origin, race, color, religion, ancestry, genetics, gender, or sexual orientation, or because you were involved in a discrimination complaint. 

Does my boss have to tell me she is going to fire me ahead of time?

Probably not.

But, if your boss has more than 100 workers, she must give you 60 days’ notice before any mass layoff or plant closing.

When should I be paid if I am fired or laid off?

If you are fired or laid off, your boss must pay you your full wages on your last day of work. She must also pay you for any unused vacation or sick time you have earned.

Can I get unemployment insurance benefits if I am fired?

For more information about unemployment insurance benefits, see Can I get unemployment insurance if I am fired?.

Where to go for help

If you think you have been discriminated against at work, contact The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), (617) 994-6000.

If you think you were fired because you were protecting your rights, contact The Fair Labor Division of the Attorney General’s Office, (617) 727-3465.

See the Anti-Retaliation poster and other Workplace Rights materials from The Fair Labor Division of the Attorney General's Office.

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