What Rights Do Employees Have in At-will Employment States?

Talk to a Monmouth County Business Lawyer to Learn About Wrongful Termination

Understanding at-will employment law is imperative for businesses, since failing to stay within the law can result in wrongful termination lawsuits against your company. New Jersey, like many other states, is has at-will employment. This means that both employers and employees may terminate employment at any time without reason or prior notice. However, the law is not always this simple, and many exceptions exist to give employees additional rights. Learning more about at-will rights can allow businesses to recognize unfair dismissal suits before they occur.

What is At-Will Employment?

At-will employment means that for any reason, except an illegal one, an employer may terminate an employee or an employee may leave a job without suffering any legal repercussions. Employers may also change an employee’s wages, eliminate benefits or otherwise alter the terms of the employment relationship without giving notice and without any legal liability. However, many legal requirements and exceptions can inhibit an employer’s ability to fire employees.

What are Exceptions to At-will Employment?

A number of statutory exemptions prevent employers from firing employees based on discrimination, retaliation and other laws. These exceptions can vary from state to state.

Additionally, a number of common law exceptions can protect employees from termination in some instances, some of which overlap with statutory exemptions. The following are two examples of these exceptions:

  • If an employee acts against his or her job duties that violate a public interest, the law generally protects that employee from termination. For example, an employer likely cannot fire an employee for refusing to participate in or reporting an employment act that violates the law.
  • Most states recognize implied contracts, even if they can be difficult to prove in a legal claim. Often, employers and supervisors may make statements that give an employee the impression of a contract. Handbooks, policies and other sources can also create this implied contract, so employers need to be careful about statements that could be construed as implied contracts.

Also of note, employers should be aware that contracts could give employees more job security by limiting an employer’s ability to fire the employee at-will. Talk to a business lawyer to learn more about employment law.

Need Advice from a Business Lawyer?

Unfair employment lawsuits can damage profits and tarnish reputations, which is why businesses of all sizes need to know how to protect themselves from lawsuits. For many years, the Monmouth County business attorneys at Garland & Mason, L.L.C. have offered dedicated legal advice and employment litigation services to companies of all sizes. Our Monmouth County business lawyers want to help your business succeed. Call us to talk to a qualified attorney about business litigation today.

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