Can You Get Fired for Job Hunting?


Q:  I found out that one of my employees is looking for another job.  I’m disappointed and feel like I’ve lost trust in him.  Can I fire him because he is looking?

A:  Yes you can, but cool your jets. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  Florida is an “at-will” state which means that –barring an employment contract– you can fire someone for any reason as long as it’s not discriminatory. (It also means someone can quit anytime.)

But –like I’ve said a zillion times- just because something is legal, doesn’t mean you should do it or that it’s good business.

It’s natural to be taken aback when you hear someone is looking to leave.  Especially if you didn’t expect it, or if you’ve invested in their development.  But, after getting over the initial response, you should move into fact-gathering mode so you can decide your best course of action.

First, try to find out why they’re looking.  People want to move jobs for different reasons.  Some are good/honest reasons; some are problematic.

If someone wants to leave because they want to change fields, are pursuing a dream or simply need more money that you can pay, then I’d say help them move on.  No need to fire.  Support them in their search.  Make room to hire another team member.

If someone wants to leave for more problematic reasons like they’re a poor cultural fit, a bad hire or are somehow disgruntled, then I would say it’s a good thing that they’re looking.  Because frankly, this is not someone you want on your team and it’s best they leave of their own accord. Again, no need to fire.

Of course if the employee is distracted, making mistakes and not giving you 100% because their attention is elsewhere, then those are different issues which you can address and if they continue you can fire him for THOSE reasons.

Going forward if you want to know when your people are looking for another job, try establishing an “open door” policy about it.  Tell employees you’re open about an honest discussion about the situation.  This isn’t for everyone so only do that if you can truly handle it.

Lastly, consider the message you’re sending to the rest of the staff if you fire someone simply for looking for another job.   Firing someone has rippling effects and should always be your last option.

Originally posted on


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