What are Dismissal Rights?

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  • Written By: T. Webster
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 31 December 2019
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Dismissal rights are legal issues relating to the termination of an employee. This covers a broad area and can vary by country, region or locality. It is always best for one to have an understanding of any applicable dismissal rights before facing what might seem like an unlawful termination of employment. In some cases, employees have little to no dismissal rights.

In some countries and under certain conditions, dismissal rights include giving an employee advance notice of employment termination. The amount of notice required might be based on how long an employee was with a company, for example. This can also vary if the employee signed a contract that specifies a required amount of advance notice for termination.

Another issue concerning dismissal rights is whether the employee belongs to a union or another employee advocacy group. When a union is involved, the employee might have the right to hearings and documentation of the reason for a dismissal. The union might even be able to convince the employer to keep the employee unless gross negligence is involved.

Generally, dismissal rights are waived if an employee does something illegal or unethical. Examples of this include substance abuse, theft, lying or insubordination. Employers also have the right to dismiss employees who are unable to perform the required duties of a job.


If an employer asks an employee to sign an agreement during a termination, this might waive any dismissal rights. Employees should always carefully review any termination agreement offered by an employer. It is also wise for one to have an attorney review the agreement.

Many employees are considered “at-will,” meaning that they have limited or no dismissal rights. At-will employment means that an employer is allowed to dismiss an employee without cause or notice. Most employers try to avoid this approach, however. Legal disputes can arise if an employee believes that a dismissal was unfair or unlawful.

Employers will generally document any reasons for a dismissal, even if an employee is considered at-will. Documentation can include written reports, witnesses or both. Most employers are smart enough to document only the areas that they know are unprotected by local employment laws. In some countries, it is illegal for an employer to fire someone solely based on age, marital status or race, for example.

Even if an employee’s dismissal rights are violated, it can be difficult to prove in certain cases. An employee’s best defense is to clearly understand company policies and labor laws. Attorneys who specialize in employment law can best advise employees on whether their dismissal rights were violated.


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