Is it legal for an employer to lay someone off via text message 40 minutes before it’s time to punch in?

Posted 06-08-2011

Ann Kiernan replies:

Assuming that it is otherwise legal to do the layoff, no special formalities are required. But even if it’s legal to fire people by texting, I certainly would not recommend it! That impersonal approach shows no respect for the human being on the other end of the phone. When Charlie Sheen was let go from his TV show in March, 2011, he complained bitterly, “I got a text or something – these guys are such yellow cockroaches that they didn’t even have the decency to call me.”


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About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.