Most employment relationships are considered at will, which essentially means that employees do not have to be fired only for cause and can be dismissed for any reason. There are, however, some exceptions to at-will employment that workers who believe they have been wrongfully terminated should be familiar with.
Several exceptions to at-will employment
Even in at-will employment relationships, employers are prohibited from firing a worker illegally. Illegal reasons for terminating employment can include for a discriminatory reason; in response to whistleblowing; or in retaliation.
One exception to at-will employment is if the firing would be against public policy or not in the public’s interest and an example of that might be if the employee is being fired in retaliation. An example may be if the employee reports wrongdoing or illegal activity in their workplace and is fired in response.
Another exception to at-will employment is if there is a claim that an implied contract exists between the employer and employee. It can be difficult, however, to prove the existence of an implied contract. There is also an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, which may prohibit firings under certain circumstances such as a lack of just cause for the firing or if the firing was done with malice.
It is important that a worker’s job is protected. This includes protection against illegal and improper firings, which can undermine the income and security of the employee. Employment law can help protect workers who rely on their jobs to support themselves and their families.