It can be entertaining to watch someone get fired on a reality TV show. But when it happens to you in real life, it is no fun at all and possibly damaging to your career. In today’s business world, online job applications will ask for references and then require an answer to the question:
“Were you ever fired from a position? If yes, please explain.”
But why do people really get fired? It is not the same as being “let go”, laid off, or resigning. If a company is going to fire you, they must have their reasons. Unjustly firing someone in the US job market runs the risk of leading to a lawsuit. We explain the 10 real reasons why, so you hopefully can avoid such situations yourself.
1. Damaging Company Property
Did you ever get so mad at the coffee machine at work that you ‘accidentally’ broke it? Maybe you damaged a computer or ‘accidentally’ downloaded a virus wiping out company files. All these things, digital or otherwise, are actions you can get fired for.
2. Drug or Alcohol Possession at Work
Regardless of state laws, being intoxicated at work or in possession of narcotics is a reason you can be fired. Anything that affects job performance or the safety of others is a bad move at work anyway, but remember some drugs can not only get you fired; you can be arrested.
3. Falsifying Company Records
Do not lie about your background on applications. And certainly, do not falsify records while on the job. You can be fired and it may even lead to a lawsuit against you.
You can be the rebellious type and still keep your job. Just know what battles to pick and how to resolve them. Bluntly disobeying orders and refusing to do something is enough to get you fired.
Companies often have a “Code of Ethics” describing the definition of “Misconduct”. It usually covers all forms of harassment, among many other things. You hear lots about this today in the news, often described as “Gross Misconduct”. The tip here is: Treat everyone in the workplace with the same mutual respect you expect in return. And if you have to ask if something is “misconduct”...don’t do it.
6. Poor Performance
Companies want employees who perform well, help it grow, bring value and work well with others. If you are not fulfilling the goals set for you, the company will see no need to continue investing in you.
This is a no-brainer. Do not steal anything from a company, even as small as a box of pens. And certainly, do not commit a felony theft of company property or funds. You can lose your job or in some cases end up in jail.
8. Using Company Property for Personal Business
It is fine to use the mailroom to mail a letter or take a stamp. It is not fine to start a company or work an entirely different job while using company property. Overuse of company property for personal business is simply something that can get you fired.
9. Always Taking Time Off
You are always late. You are always calling out sick, beyond sick and vacation days. And you treat your job as if it’s an inconvenience to your personal life. Your absence hurts the company. Expect to be fired, eventually. It should not bother you. You never go to work anyway.
10. Violating Company Policy
When you start working at a company they usually give you a list of rules or company guidelines. If you violate these, you can either be written up or fired. The reason for being fired is vague, but the details as to “why you violated company policy” can be found in your contract and company guidelines when you agreed to work for the company.
Some Other Notable Reasons
Check these reasons out and be sure to stay clear of them:
- Calling in sick with fake excuses
- Using the Internet for non-work related purposes
- Violating social media policies
- Disrupting other employees in the workplace
- Failed background or drug tests
If you ever feel you have been terminated for a job with no valid reason or for reasons violating State and Federal Laws, you do have rights, too. But before you simply decide, “I’m going to sue,” make sure you do your research as to whether they were justified or not. Frivolous lawsuits being thrown out of court cost businesses, government, and employees millions of dollars each year.
You can find more information about being fired in our complete guide, Getting Fired: Meaning, Tips, & Moving Ahead.