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3 Reasons Good Employees Get Fired, According To An Employment Lawyer

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We spend a huge portion of our waking hours at work; it's no wonder that so many people define their successes and failures according to their professional lives. Yet even people who work hard and maintain long-term gains at their jobs can still, unfortunately, get fired.

Craig Levy, an employment law attorney, shared why an employee who’s been successful at their job for an extended period of time might get terminated.



Three reasons good employees get fired, according to an employment lawyer

1. The employee gets a new supervisor.

When management positions shuffle around at a company, there’s likely to be an adjustment period for everyone involved. Levy points out that sometimes, supervisors don’t get along with the people they’re managing. 

He noted that a new supervisor might see the employee as a threat to their job, so they fire them.

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2. The ownership of the company changes hands.

“Sometimes, a new company or regime gets involved,” Levy explained. “They reassess the company and determine that certain individuals are no longer needed.”

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Even if an employee is a high performer, it’s still possible that they’ll be laid off if they’re deemed redundant to the company.

3. The employee is seen as a burden to the company.

A high-performing employee could go from being valued to being discarded, especially if management interprets them as a threat to the company’s well-being and overall success.

Levy explained that there are a variety of reasons why an employee might be seen as a burden. The employee might have acted as a whistle-blower on some illegal activity within the company, which threatens the company’s livelihood. 

Another example of an employee becoming burdensome is if they’ve taken extended leave from work, whether due to medical reasons, parental leave after having a baby, or mental health struggles. 

“Even very high performers are expendable when they become a perceived burden to the company,” Levy stated.

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There are protections in place to assist workers if they believe they've been fired for unlawful reasons. 

Branigan Robertson, an employment attorney based in California, offered his YouTube followers a guide to wrongful terminations. He examined the differences between valid terminations and unlawful terminations, as they pertain to employment laws within California, specifically.

He delineated the differences between terminations that are unfair and terminations that are illegal, noting that just because your termination was unfair, doesn’t necessarily mean it was unlawful. 

Robertson also explained the meaning of being an at-will employee, stating that “the at-will doctrine says that employers can fire you for any reason under the sun, except for things that the courts and Congress have decided are unlawful.”

He then explained that contractual wrongful termination is “where the employee has an employment contract with the employer that says he or she cannot be fired except for good cause” or for reaching the end of a contract term.

While the nuances of employment law run deep, it’s important for employees who were fired to have a strong understanding of the law, in order to protect themselves. 

woman working at her laptopPhoto: cottonbro studio / Pexels 

As Levy’s TikTok highlighted, just because you got fired, doesn’t mean you’re bad at your job. By emphasizing that even valuable employees get fired, it’s clear that we shouldn’t define our worth through our work.

As one person advised in the comments section, “Never give your whole self to one company.”

If you do get fired despite being a good employee, remember that our jobs do not define us. We all hold inherent value just by virtue of being ourselves. 

RELATED: HR Expert Advises Employees To Never Quit Their Jobs & Get Fired Instead — 'It's Demeaning But It's Worth It'

Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers workplace culture, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.