“I acknowledge that my employment is at-will and for no specific duration. Either I or the company may terminate my employment at any time, with or without cause or prior notice. My employment-at-will status cannot be changed except in a writing signed by the president of the company.”
This familiar statement can be found in most job contracts and employee manuals. Yet, people sign the document without knowing what it means.
Being an “at-will” employee means your boss can fire you at any time, and they are not required to explain why. If your manager decides to let you go simply because they don’t like you or any other reason, they have the right to do so.
What are the limitations?
While this may seem like the law is giving managers the green light to abuse their powers, it is still forbidden to terminate workers for:
- Their race, religion, age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability, or political beliefs.
- Requesting time off for health, family, serving on a jury as a witness, or any other leave of absence protected by law.
- Reporting illegal activity such as unsafe workplace practices.
- Being part of a union.
Employment contracts can include restrictions on termination
Imagine that you work at an insurance company. The contract stipulates employees can be fired for many reasons listed on the document, including unjustified absences. You took a few days off for an urgent health issue after getting your manager’s approval.
Upon your return, you receive the news of your firing with no explanation. Because the contract states some motives for employee termination and you clearly adhered to the rules by having a valid medical excuse for your absences, it is possible to sue your employer for this.
Getting fired is a matter that is often open to more than one interpretation, which is why it’s essential to consult a qualified employment law attorney. You may have been a victim of an unlawful firing, and you’re not aware of it.
If you suspect you were fired for an unfair reason, schedule a free consultation with our experts to get the compensation you deserve.