What Are the Rights of a Terminated Employee in NY?

Sep 22, 2023

employee terminationIn New York, like many other states, employment is generally considered “at-will.” At-will employment is a legal doctrine that allows either the employer or the employee to terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any reason. This means that unless you have a contract stating otherwise, you can be let go without a formal reason.

However, understanding your rights as a terminated employee in New York is essential for ensuring that you are treated fairly and legally by your employer. Have a comprehensive look into employee terminations in New York, your rights after termination, and how our employee attorneys in Albany, NY can help you when issues arise.

What Makes an Employee Termination Valid

Lawful termination could be due to a variety of factors such as poor job performance, shifts in the organization’s business needs, or even by mutual consent between the employer and the employee. For instance, an employer might terminate an employee for consistently failing to meet performance targets, or if the company is restructuring and the employee’s role becomes redundant. Additionally, both parties can agree to part ways amicably, perhaps due to a divergence in long-term career or business goals.

Rights of a Terminated Employee in NY

Although terminated, you have legal entitlements after it. These rights are vital for safeguarding your interests and ensuring you’re not left at a disadvantage. Here are some of the most important rights you should be aware of:

Severance Pay Regulations

In New York, there is no legal requirement for employers to provide severance pay upon termination. However, if your employer has a stated policy or past practice of offering severance packages, they are legally obligated to adhere to that policy.

Right to Continue Health Insurance

Health insurance is a significant concern for many terminated employees. Thankfully, the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows you to continue your existing health insurance coverage for a specific period, typically up to 18 months. However, you will usually be required to pay the full premium amount, which can be costly.

Final Paycheck Laws

Your termination process should also adhere to New York State Labor Law, Section 191, concerning final paychecks. According to this law, you are entitled to receive your final paycheck no later than the regular payday for the last period you worked. Failure by the employer to comply with this regulation can result in legal penalties.

Being terminated from your job is an unsettling experience, but knowing your rights can help you navigate this difficult period more effectively. Whether it’s understanding severance pay policies, applying for unemployment benefits, securing continued health insurance, or ensuring timely receipt of your final paycheck, staying informed is key.

Rights of a Wrongfully Terminated Employee in NY

Although New York is an at-will state, there are significant limitations when an employer cannot terminate an employee for unfair or unlawful reasons. Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired for illegal reasons, such as discrimination or retaliation. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, it’s crucial to consult employee attorneys in Albany, NY. You may be entitled to remedies such as reinstatement, back pay, and in some cases, punitive damages.

Whether it’s lawful termination with rights to unemployment benefits, or wrongful termination necessitating legal action, being well-informed is crucial. The Towne Law Firm, P.C., with its extensive experience in employment law, can help you navigate the legal complexities involved in asserting your rights after termination. For comprehensive assistance in navigating your post-termination legal landscape, contact us today for a consultation.