Michelle Cohen Levy

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What are the exceptions to at-will employment?

| Sep 29, 2019 | Wrongful Termination |

At-will employment is in place to benefit both workers and employers. It means that employers can let a worker go at any time without reason, but workers are also free to resign from their positions without fear of recrimination. It’s not permissible to fire a worker for any reasons deemed discriminatory, and there are other exceptions to at-will policies that employers must adhere to when terminating their workers. The Balance offers the following information. 

Some workplaces, particularly those with salaried workers, implement employment contracts upon hiring. These contracts have stipulations regarding employment, including things like work duties, pay, and other important considerations. These stipulations override policies regarding at-will employment and must be followed or employers run the risk of being the subject of a lawsuit. It’s crucial that workers fully understand the terms of their contracts to ensure they’re being followed. 

While most contract terms are written out and signed by both parties, others may be implied. Implied contracts are tough to define and it’s up to the employee to show that he or she is subject to an implied contract that would make termination without reason unlawful. One example might be language in an employee handbook that stipulates otherwise. If a worker believes an implied contract is in place, it’s best to get it committed to writing to prevent any confusion should termination occur.

Finally, employers must act in good faith towards workers at all times. That means an employer can’t simply fire a worker to avoid obligations, such as providing health insurance or paying out a commission. If a worker believes his or her firing was not lawfully committed, filing a complaint and seeking legal assistance are the logical next steps.