Can “Quiet Quitters” Be Fired? Yes, But Be Careful!

by Marc Lamber

People are fighting back against going the extra mile; instead, doing only the bare minimum at work. This is “quiet quitting.”

Seventy-nine percent of American workers are burned out, compared to just 9% who are thriving and engaged, according to Gallup. Employees who are not engaged perform 33% lower than their engaged counterparts. 

Employers know who the quiet quitters are. They generally produce less work product, take increased unplanned absences, are not interested in growing their skill set within the company, and they produce poor work leading to increased customer complaints. 

Arizona employers can build and enhance employee engagement strategies to promote best efforts and loyalty to the company, but in today’s environment some employees value their personal quality of life over the initiative they show at work. If an employer thinks they have a quiet quitter in the ranks, that person can be fired without explanation. 

This is because of Arizona’s employment-at-will statute, A.R.S. Sec. 23-1501. The termination just can’t be illegal. A wrongful termination case could be brought if there is a violation of an employment contract, violation of a state statute, a Civil Rights or occupational safety violation, or a retaliatory firing, among other exceptions. 

While firing is an option in most cases, in these times it’s probably not the best option. Leaders who recognize a rise in quiet quitting among the ranks should first look in the mirror. Is the leader modeling the behavior they expect and communicating expectations clearly? Is the leader even communicating at all? 

Employers can otherwise set the bar for new and existing employees through more specific job descriptions, establishing detailed performance violation policies and conducting more frequent performance reviews. 

It’s important to keep in mind that it’s okay to have average employees, who are not quiet quitters, who keep the work moving and want to keep their jobs.

Marc Lamber, a Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent-rated trial attorney and public safety advocate and a director at Fennemore who chairs the Personal Injury Practice Group and has been featured in national and local media 

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