Does at-will employment spell unchecked prerogatives for an employer?

| Nov 10, 2020 | Wrongful Termination

No, it does not.

That is the short and incontestable answer to the header query leading off today’s blog post.

And it is a response that candidly surprises many people who are employed at workplaces spanning the country under either implied or express “at-will” contracts.

Those contracts are flatly common across the United States. An article on such work arrangements published in the national online lifestyle site Cheat Sheet duly notes that, “These days, practically everyone is an at-will employee.”

That key hyphenated and delimiting descriptor reasonably leads legions of American workers – both state and federal employees – to believe that their continued on-the-job efforts are at the absolute discretion of their bosses. At-will utterances commonly come from employers, not workers.

Again, though, an at-will arrangement does not imply an employer’s unchecked power to weigh in with a firing decision. Company managers certainly can invoke an at-will understanding when seeking to terminate a worker, but it must be couched in fairness and reason.

And, importantly, in law. If that was not true, an employer could pretextually cite at-will powers to part ways with a worker for unspecified reasons unrelated to subpar job performance. “You’re not doing your job” might really mean, “We want to let you go because we think you’re too old.”

Or pregnant. Or from a different country. Or not “straight.” Or from a minority group that makes us uncomfortable. Or because you have a disability. The list goes on. We know that readers get the point.

A workplace firing can denote wrongful termination when spurred by unlawful motives rendered taboo under a wide blanket of protective federal, state and local laws.

A proven employment law legal team can provide further information as well as diligent advocacy aimed at securing a meaningful remedy against unlawful employer action.

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