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4 Key Types of Terminations

Employment changes and terminations happen for all sorts of reasons. But the motivation behind a staffing change can require a modified security plan.

Let’s break it down with some definitions, as they pertain to U.S. employers:


1. At-Will Employment

In many U.S. states, some form of employment at will is recognized. In these cases, either the employee or employer can terminate an employment relationship for any legal reason, even without cause or notice, at any time. Exceptions vary state by state.


2. Voluntary Terminations

Resigntation. The employee quits a job by providing verbal or written notice of resignation. A two-week notice is often provided, but some organizations or departments prefer to end the relationship more quickly, depending on an individual’s role, risk profile, or other factors.

Resignation in lieu of termination. In some cases—like if the employee isn’t fitting in well—the employer could offer to let the employee resign instead of being fired. This step can avoid damaging future job prospects.

Constructive discharge. This occurs when an employee voluntarily quits due to a toxic work environment that the employee finds unbearable or unhealthy, such as discrimination, harassment, bullying, or an overwhelming workload. In these cases, the employee may be eligible for severance pay or unemployment compensation.

Job abandonment. The employee stops showing up for work without notifying the employer about intentions to quit.



3. Mutual Termination of Employment

Both parties—employee and employer—agree to terminate a contract.



4. Involuntary Termination

For cause.

This means firing an employee for a particular reason, such as:

Policy or conduct violations. This can cover any number of reasons, including workplace behavior like harassment, fiscal negligence, or security violations.

Unsatisfactory performance. The employee failed to fulfill his or her responsibilities at work.

Without cause, or notice of termination.

In these cases, the employee is unlikely to be at fault.

Layoffs or reductions in force. These terminations are often tied to budget cuts or loss of revenue.

Business needs changed or the organization restructured. Restructuring can result in roles being eliminated or reduced, rendering some staff redundant.

Employee is not a good fit. Organizational culture differences that cause conflict or challenges within teams—without violations of policy—could be cause to let an employee go.

Wrongful termination. This occurs when an employer unlawfully fires an employee without proper notice, disregarding employment agreements, racially discriminating against an employee, or penalizing an employee’s unwillingness to participate in an illegal act. These cases can result in lawsuits.


For additional information, read more in The HR Digest, SHRM, or various labor law resources.


Claire Meyer is managing editor of Security Management. Connect with her on LinkedIn or email her at [email protected]