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Can HR fire me?

The answer is yes and no.

You can be fired for nearly any reason and at any time as an American with few exceptions. However, it’s rare for HR to fire you.

If you are fired, the decision to fire you comes from someone else. A supervisor or manager can fire you for just about any reason. An HR professional will coordinate the process and make sure the reason you are fired is grounded in legal reasoning. They are also there to explain your rights and benefits when you leave the organization.

HR professionals rarely have the authority to fire an employee summarily.

Can HR force my manager or supervisor to fire me?

Some people run afoul of the HR department, but your local human resources representative cannot force your manager to fire you. If you are fired because HR doesn’t like you, it most likely means that your manager didn’t like you.

Often, HR is a scapegoat.

Can HR fire me if I am a whistleblower?

The Whistleblower Protection Act can shield federal workers from retaliation. However, this law doesn’t apply to private-sector workers, many of whom are fired for reasons that are, on the surface, unrelated to their whistleblower activities. There may be state protections or other ways private citizens have rights and privileges. Contact an employment lawyer or attorney for more information.

But, again, I can’t stress this enough: HR professionals rarely make a decision to fire anybody. In most organizations, the decision to fire an employee is made by a supervisor or manager. The local HR department clears the determination with the legal department or outside counsel and simply processes the paperwork. When the decision to fire someone has been made, HR can offer limited support and explain the next steps to the affected employee.

Should HR support workers? Of course, but sometimes that’s not enough to protect you from being fired.

Can I blame HR for being fired?

Sure, but it’s not always fair or accurate.

I hate HR.

Maybe you should hate the corporatist agenda that puts a bureaucratic layer between you and your supervisor due to outdated, 20th-century labor laws and vote for federal and state candidates who will have your back. Or maybe you should go work in HR.

Have you got HR questions? Email Laurie at hello@letsfixwork.com and she’ll try to answer them on her blog.

One Response to Can HR Fire Me?
  1. Jude

    You wrote, “Contact an employment lawyer…” to workers who seek counsel re. whistle blowing. Yea I sought such an attorney under the heading “employment law” all results were for lawyers who represent employers/management/businesses. Not ’til I searched the term “labor lawyer” did I finally find attorney whose main business is representing *employees*. Far fewer labor lawyers because “employment” (actually management) attorneys make the big bucks.