In New York, employers can terminate their employees without notice or cause, according to the New York Department of Labor. As long as employers terminate their employees for no reason or for nondiscriminatory reasons, they can do so without notice. Employers must comply with the state's last paycheck regulations governing when terminated employees must receive their final paychecks and what types of wages are payable.
Termination Notice Laws
New York law does not require employers to provide their employees with advance notice before terminating them. However, employers may have to provide advance notice when terminating more than 50 employees and 1/3 of their workforce. Employers must also give advance termination notice if they terminate 500 or more employees. According to the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, employers must give their affected employees at least 60 days of written notice before terminating them. The WARN Act applies to employers with at least 100 employees. Covered employers who fail to comply with the WARN Act face civil monetary penalties and may have to pay their employees back pay.
Final Paycheck Laws
Employers must give their terminated employees their final paychecks by their next regularly scheduled paydays. A terminated employee's final paycheck must include payment for final work hours and may include fringe benefit vacation pay. New York employers are not required to provide their employees with paid or unpaid vacation days. However, if they voluntarily enact vacation pay policies, they may have to pay their employees for accrued, but unused, vacation days. Under New York law, employers with written policies requiring employees to forfeit their unused but earned vacation pay are not required to include unused vacation pay in their final checks. Employers without written forfeiture policies must pay their terminated employees for their unused vacation pay.
Illegal Termination Laws
The New York State Division of Human Rights administers the state's equal employment opportunity regulations. According to the Division of Human Rights, anti-discrimination regulations are an exception to the employment-at-will doctrine. New York employers cannot terminate their employees based on disability, age, race, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender, union membership, legal drug use after hours, social activities outside of the workplace, recreational activities outside of the workplace or for filing complaints against employers.
Severance Pay Laws
New York employers do not have to offer their terminated employees severance pay packages before terminating them. Absent a written severance pay agreement between an employer and an employee or between an employer and an employee's collective bargaining unit, a New York employer does not have to provide severance compensation to their employees.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Worker’s Guide to Advance Notice of Closings and Layoffs
- New York State Division of Human Rights: Employment Rights for Victims of Domestic Violence
- New York City Bar Association: Employment Law Handbook for Non-Lawyers
- New York State Division of Human Rights: Basic Guide to the Human Rights Law
- New York State Department of Labor: Wages and Hours FAQs