Is Your Employment at Will? Don’t Assume You Have No Legal Rights

Employment at will is the general concept that an employer can fire an employee for most reasons.  You have probably heard about the general rule of employment at will, and how it allows employers to conduct many types of job terminations and unfair actions.

But if you have at-will employment, you should not assume you have no legal rights.  As I have described in this article, there are exceptions to employment at will where broad categories of at-will workers do have potentially strong legal claims for diverse employment situations.  Also, upon closer examination, those categories of legal rights (described on a high level in that article) consist of a substantial number of legal claims.  For example, legal rights generally labeled as “discrimination” and “whistleblower retaliation” rights encompass thousands of distinct legal claims, the applicability of which depend on the particular situations, Federal and State laws involved, etc.

Given the vast possible legal claims out there, the employment at will concept should not cause you to make definitive assumptions or decisions.  With that said, if the concept has given you a sense of skepticism that makes you want to learn more before taking legal action, that’s a good thing.

It is an important decision whether you take legal action or not.  So important that, in my view, it warrants you have an attorney evaluate your matter before you act on your assumptions.  As mentioned, some workers don’t explore valid legal rights because they wrongly assume employment at will bars those rights.  On the flip side, some workers assume they do have strong legal rights when they don’t, and rush ahead and file legal claims (e.g. discrimination claims they file without an attorney’s assistance).

My bottom-line suggestion is this: if you are not an employment law attorney, then do not diagnose your own legal claims or lack thereof.  If you consult with a competent employment attorney, and he or she gives you an evaluation whether you have a viable claim, then that is a sound basis upon which to base your actions or inaction.


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