Most working people are at-will employees. This means that, in most cases, a business can suspend (or fire) an employee for any reason -- or no reason at all. So, unless you are working under a union or employment contract that provides for a suspension (or termination) procedure -- or unless there’s a written company disciplinary procedure (published in an employee handbook, e.g.) -- then your employer can suspend (or fire) you without an initial reprimand. Even if there is a disciplinary procedure, the company may claim that they do not have to follow the procedure in specific cases (the parameters of which may or may not be spelled out in the contract or company rules).
For terminations, however, there are some exceptions. In most cases, at-will employees cannot be fired for reasons that are illegal under state and federal law. Three notable exceptions are:
- Employees cannot be fired because of certain characteristics, such as race, religion, or gender.
- Employees cannot be fired because they have complained about illegal activity, about discrimination or harassment, or about health and safety violations in the workplace.
- Employees cannot be fired for exercising a variety of legal rights, including the right to take family and medical leave, to take leave to serve in the military, or to take time off work to vote or serve on a jury.