I got hired as consultant (hardware engineer) after a brief phone interview that went really well. He was impressed not only with my skill A but also skill B and C. I was asked to join immediately.

It was basically a one man's company where the owner was the sole employee (design engineer). I was hired through a recruiting agency.

On my second day after I was on my way to home, I received call from the recruiter, asking me not to go to work tomorrow. I was in a shock. I was not given a clear reason but was told he needed someone with more experience.

This gave me great pains because

  • He had reviewed my resume
  • He had interviewed me over the phone
  • We had talked about my previous experiences
  • I did not oversell myself, in fact was quite honest enough about my past projects.
  • There was nothing false in my resume.
  • I did not make any mistake in the two days that I worked
  • I did not get enough time for my skills to be properly evaluated (only 14 hours of work)
  • The termination was on phone
  • He never spoke to me in person.

Do I have any options here? Can I fight for my rights here when I am not apparently at fault? How do I cope with this situation now and in future.

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    Why is a close flag here? Please answer it here in a meta discussion Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 3:29
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    @rocketscience A standard 1099 contract ALWAYS has a definite period explicitly, even though it can be terminated at any time. This all sounds very wrong. I would talk to a lawyer if I were you. Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 12:18
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    You will find that few things in life a truly fair.. and even when they are you will wish they were less fair. But this question is not constructive. Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 14:21
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    @Rudy, I have a perm job. This is something that happened a while ago :) Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 11:17
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    Okay. Good to hear that. My suggestion then : make use of your interview process efficiently. The interview is not only one-sided, it's actually two sided. You should also measure whether the company is good enough for you.
    – Rudy
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 11:25

6 Answers 6


I think this is one of the perils of doing interviews over the phone. You don't get to do a proper face to face where details can be touched upon and body language, personalities explored.

Is it fair for employer to fire someone on the next day over the phone with out giving any solid reason? Is it common?

No, it isn't common unless the recruit has done something ridiculous and no, it doesn't seem fair unless some major error was made or character flaw discovered. As for not telling you face to face, it could either be a personality issue or maybe he feels bad about it as well and doesn't want to be confronted.

Can the employee do anything about it if this is something violates him/her emotionally just because it is against common code of conduct?

This would depend on your employment contract. I always insist on contracts that have a mandatory, minimum 30 day notice on termination (either from me or from the company) with a minimum service period of 3 months because you can't go back to your old job if this new one doesn't work out.

Seriously, just don't take jobs over the phone unless you are currently unemployed and job prospects are slim, it's generally a lot riskier for both parties.

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    I believe a major part of it was personality conflict (not from my side). 2. My technical may not be of 10/10 level but it was strong enough to give me a chance for at least 1 weak. If i failed, I would have not problem being letting go. Also I am non-white that perhaps contributed in personality conflict. At that time, I thought am I living in a slum in really poor country when this happened. It was in a shock what had happened. Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 12:09
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    @rocketscience Proving racial discrimination in court is extremely hard to do. On that note, 2 days is hardly enough time to determine someone's skills inadequate. My first day on my current job my wife was in the hospital all night before so I had to go in with almost no sleep. I definitely wasn't sharp so I explained the situation and they accepted it. 2 days very well may be discrimination, you should talk to a lawyer. Many attorneys who specialize in employment law will give free consultations. Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 12:16
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    I have been taking s/w contract jobs over the 'phone for decades now, where the new job is in a different country or on a different continent. Generally, the company just want's to save the cost of a flight of interview. The majority have turned out just fine, but the main point is that I don't think that I could have found out more about the company at a face to face. Nor could they really have found out more about me, other than what I look like (dashingly handsome, in a roguish yet ultra-intelligent way).
    – Mawg
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 10:32

Is it fair for employer to fire someone on the next day over the phone with out giving any solid reason? Is it common?

It sound like this company just gets candidates to do a few days work rather than doing an interview. A questionable policy as it stands but downright immoral when it wasn't communicated to you as such. No it's not common. Just think of this as a failed interview rather than a failed job. That's what it is.

Can the employee do anything about it if this is something violates him/her emotionally just because it is against common code of conduct?

Depends on your contract. A standard contract will have a probationary period where they can let you go just because they don't like you. So long as they pay you to the end of your notice term I suspect they are acting fully legally.

You could send them a letter detailing why their policy is unfair but I would recommend against it. You don't stand to gain anything and your better spending your efforts finding a new position.

Good luck

  • My policy changed after this incidence, quite drastically. Yes I tried everything I could because it was really humiliating for me as a professional. I had a phone meeting with the recruiter and his boss after this incidence. I told them just one think 'Please don't do it to anyone else'. By the I am non-white. Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 11:57

Your question is woefully deficient on details, because the base question is if what had happened to you was fair or not.

This unsurprisingly depends on your employment status, who you were actually employed by, and what state you live in.

As an independent contractor on a standard 1099 contract, you are NOT an employee of the Company, but you are an independent entity of the company where you agree to perform requested services for an agreed upon compensation. In this contract, both parties have the right to terminate it going forward for no reason at all.

As an employee of a consultant company or recruiting agency you would be considered an employee that happens to be performing work at a company per the instructions and agreements by your employer and this company. If the company doesn't want you back then you may not be working and not getting paid, however you would still be considered an employee of the agency and they would be responsible for finding additional work for you.

As an employee of the Company you will get a W2 but the employer will have certain rules and ways that they should go about things when it comes to termination. What these worker protections are depend highly on what state you live in.

IANAL: Nearly all states operate under At-Will employment laws. Under these there are various protections to workers being fired for what is widely considered unfair reasons. Of these common statutory unfair reasons are:

  • for refusing to commit illegal acts – An employer is not permitted to fire an employee because the employee refuses to commit an act that is illegal.

  • family or medical leave – federal law permits most employees to take a leave of absence for specific family or medical problems. An employer is not permitted to fire an employee who takes family or medical leave for a reason outlined in the Family and Medical Leave Act.

  • not following own termination procedures – often, the employee handbook or company policy outlines a procedure that must be followed before an employee is terminated. If the employer fires an employee without following this procedure, the employee may have a claim for wrongful termination.

Most states have clauses offering additional protections to workers under Public Policy Doctrine. What this means is that an employer cannot terminate you for retaliation of actions that comply with public policy. An example of this would be if you reported your employer to the EPA for illegally disposing of toxic or regulated waste and you were let go because of it. You would have a strong case to bring suit.

*Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-will_employment*

The bottom line is that despite all of this, determining wrongful termination is incredibly difficult to do, as most employers realize that they can best protect themselves legally by almost never terminating an employee with reason. If they simply say that your services are no longer needed, then in most cases it is far too dificult to prove wrongful dismissal on the basis of race, gender, discrimination, or retaliation.

So you have to determine yourself if you feel that what your employer did was illegal, because coming to a conclusion on unethical is far harder to prove. Certainly illegal is unethical, but unethical isn't always illegal.


In a typical scenario, it shouldn't have been so bad. Bad luck truly.

But i think the primary reason why you have been told no is that prospect project collapsed. I could have been a day before you join or a day after - that could have just been a co-incidence.

However, this experience should tell us more of the following:

  1. Ref check of employers is just important as ref checks of employees. Yes, in most cases, when we are dealing with big companies is always available - however, it is not a given that company always is reliable.

  2. Personal interview is usually a must; and at least you should know the horizons and path for your career ahead.

  3. In a situation like this you should have asked for a personal meet with the proprietor and have one-to-one about what went wrong. May be you could just make a call now!

So coming to your question:

Is it fair for employer to fire someone on the next day over the phone with out giving any solid reason? Is it common?

From professional companies, it is not common. But it is okay to say GOODBYE WITHOUT giving reason.

Can the employee do anything about it if this is something violates him/her emotionally just because it is against common code of conduct?

Ok, depending on the norms and law, you CAN really question this in some parts of the world. But i think there is not much hope to get good out of it. You cannot really fight to get the job back - but you can ask for compensation, certificate or even joining bonus if promised.

TIP: Since it's only been 1 day for you, it doesn't look like a big gap, you can just forget about it and join some other organization quickly.


I don't think it's common - I've never heard of it happening before, especially without it being clear to the employee why it happened. It sounds extremely unprofessional to me.

However, I don't think there's much you can do about it, either. What would you want to do about it, anyway? Your ex-employer didn't want you working there any more and didn't want to give an explanation - you can't force either one out of them. (Unless you had a contract that specified a notice period).
If you can't think of any clear reason why it happened (and for that kind of reaction to make sense, it would have to be really obvious), and nobody's telling you, then I think you can reasonably enough tell yourself that your ex-employer screwed up and you shouldn't take it personally. It's difficult, but people in the workplace aren't your personal friends, and there's no point in letting conflicts with them affect you emotionally.

That said, while I don't think you can get much out of the employer, you may have better luck with the recruiter - they may have some idea what was going on, or whether this is just a habit with that particular employer, and may be able to tell you if this is something that happens often in your area and line of work better than we can. In general, recruiters can be more willing to communicate with you, as they are much more likely to be dealing with you again than ex-employers.

  1. People have reasons for firing a new employee, and some of them are even good reasons, but firing you by telling the RECRUITER is rank cowardice. Not letting you know why you're being let go is, again, cowardice. Tell everybody you think he fired you because you're black, especially if you're actually white.

  2. What legal leverage you have depends on the local laws and whatever contracts you signed. In the United States, most places you've got nothing. Two things you can do: file for unemployment compensation which will raise this guy's UI premiums, and tell everybody you know what happened, with details.

  • I am actually an asian guy. Part of it could be that, because there can be that personality conflict without having a face to face interview. To me it is ok someone can get fired. But having an brutal, unethical treatment begs for question, do I have any options. I guess the answer is the time of contract and face to face meeting. You can't do much afterwards even if you are emotionally destroyed. Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 3:23

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