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Published: 2008-03-26

What Rights Do At-Will Employees Have?



Most employees in this country are known as "at will" employees. This means that they can be terminated or otherwise disciplined by their employer for any reason, or no reason at all, regardless of cause. They can be fired without any warning and without any compensation or severance.

The "at will" employment relationship does not apply to employees who have specific written contracts. Also, some employment handbooks or manuals can give additional rights to "at will" employees. Employees who are members of labor unions also have more extensive job security. So do public sector employees and those governed by civil service rules.

Although their rights are restricted, "at will" employees have some legal protection. They cannot be fired or subject to other adverse treatment in the workplace in violation of federal, state or local laws. For instance, discrimination and harassment laws, whisteblower laws, and other rules and regulations may restrict the discretion of employers in their treatment of "at will" employees.

Even though an "at will" employee only has limited legal rights, they may be able to achieve compensation and other benefits if they are laid off. Most businesses are willing to offer severance or separation packages, which may be improved by negotiations.

For more information about the rights of employees or other employment subjects, please contact us through our e-mail or by calling (612) 339-4295..