Short answer is yes. New York is an employment-at-will state, meaning you can be fired, or you can resign, without cause or notice. Thus, if you were to give your employer two weeks notice that you were resigning, they could fire you right away or at any point before you officially depart. You don’t have to give them notice that you’re resigning, however; you could just resign immediately, although that may not be common practice and may not be advisable if you want to maintain the best possible relationship with that employer and with your coworkers.
You should consult your company handbook and guidelines when planning how to go about announcing and following through with your resignation. Under New York law, employers can institute policies for how an employee should go about resigning. Violating those policies—which may require you to give a certain amount of notice before resigning from your employment—might result in negative consequences for you, “such as the forfeiture of compensation for unused vacation time or a negative final evaluation in [your] personnel file”
While there can be repercussions for not following company policy in your resignation, your employer cannot withhold payment for hours worked, no matter what violation of company policy might take place. Doing so is a violation of the law.
In terms of your own personal strategy for your resignation, as a general rule you don’t want to have a negative relationship with your previous employer, unless there are special circumstances at play. The Balance Careers provides the following advice to those contemplating leaving immediately:
“Giving two weeks’ notice is the standard practice, and in most cases, providing it helps to ensure a good relationship with an employer. However, there are some good reasons to skip giving notice.
If it’s typical for your employer to ask people to leave immediately, and not pay for the two-week period, you could wind up in a tough financial situation. Under these circumstances, you might want to quit without notice.”
Leaving on the best possible terms with your employer is in your best interest. Even if you left your job for a new job, it is still quite important to have good references in the future, and you will leave the job with a positive attitude toward your experiences there. This relationship with your previous workplace is even more important if you’re leaving your job without another one lined up.
If your past employer tells a prospective one that you quit without notice, it may not instill the prospective employer with much confidence in you.
However, if your employer usually fires people immediately after giving notice, it will reflect poorly on you to tell future employers that you were fired and did not resign. That is a situation in which you may want to quit immediately.
Even if you know as soon as you start the job that it isn’t for you, giving your two weeks notice instead of quitting instantly is usually advisable.
However, there are certain urgent situations that you may need to get out of immediately. The Balance Careers lists some of those possible scenarios:
- “An employee has been physically abusive.
- A supervisor has sexually harassed you.
- The work environment is unsafe, or it is unsafe to carry out your assigned responsibilities.
- Your mental health is being seriously endangered by job stress.
- You have not been paid the agreed-upon wage or wages have been withheld for an unreasonable length of time.
- You have been asked to do something which is clearly unethical or illegal.
- Personal or family circumstances are such that you need to leave the job.
- A crisis has happened in your life, and there is no way you can continue on the job.”
If you’re leaving your workplace because you were the victim of some form of harassment, you may want to consider pursuing resolution beyond or instead of resigning. You don’t have to resign in order to pursue resolution for the harassment or discrimination you’re facing. You can pursue resolution with your company’s internal human resources department, you can pursue a claim with the state or federal agency that enforces anti-discrimination law, and you can consult with an employment attorney about your options.
If you give your two weeks’ notice, engage in any of the above protected actions, and you are then subsequently fired before your two weeks’ notice is up, you might be the victim of retaliation. Retaliation is illegal under federal and state law.