WHAT DOES AT-WILL EMPLOYMENT REALLY MEAN?
An “at-will employment” means that an employer has the right to terminate an employee at any time and for any or no reason. It also means that the employee has the right to terminate his or her own employment at any time and for any or no reason. This also means the termination can be done without any prior notice. In United States, an employee is considered to be an at-will employee unless there is proof otherwise, such as an employment contract.
However, there are exceptions to “at-will employment.” Other
laws may be broken if a termination is made for an otherwise illegal reason,
such as discrimination. Here are some of the exceptions to the at-will
• An employee cannot be fired for a discriminatory reason such as race, national origin, religion, color, or sex.
• An employee cannot be fired out of retaliation for performing a legally protected action. For example, an employer cannot fire an employee for filing a discrimination or harassment suit, or being a whisteblower regarding illegal or unsafe practices, or complaining about the working environment and overtime practices.
• An employee with a contract that outlines the terms of employment cannot be fired outside of those terms. In other words, contracts supersede at-will employment assumptions.
• An employer who provides some protections in employment policies, such as firing only for just cause, must abide by those protections.
The Law Offices of Payab & Associates is a Los Angeles based law firm with more than 17 years of experience in employment cases. Our office has successfully litigated many complex disputes including wrongful termination, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, wage and labor disputes, and retaliation cases.