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“At-Will” Employment, What Does That Really Mean?

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Beginning in June, 2011, Montana became the only state in the U.S. not participating in the “At-Will” Employment Law in some form.  What does that really mean?  It simply means that an employer may terminate any employee at any time, including their first day of employment, providing the employer is not violating the law, which prevents them from terminating an employee based upon race, gender, country of origin, ethnicity, any disability, religion, or any other type of discrimination.

“At-Will” Law Exceptions

There are exceptions to the at-will laws, and include a contractual agreement between an employee and the employer whereby the employer has agreed to hire an employee for a certain length of time.  If the employer fails to live up to this agreement and terminates the employee, the employee may sue the employer for wrongful termination.

Another exception to the at-will laws may include a company’s written handbook which may be perceived as a contract between an employer and their employees.  Most companies are careful to avoid verbiage that could be interpreted as an agreement to employ an individual for a certain period of time, including a probationary period.  In addition, many handbooks include a signature page for the employee to sign agreeing that they understand the handbook does not imply they are promised employment with the company for a specific amount of time, nor has anyone employed by the company promised them, orally, or in writing, a certain timeframe for employment.

Regardless of how an employer handbook is written, the at-will employment laws do not exempt an employee from suing a company for illegal or wrongful termination.

Chicago Employment Representation

Goldman & Ehrlich Law Firm in Chicago, Illinois has a team of experts that have a thorough understanding of the at-will employment laws, and they will fight for your rights.  Contact Goldman & Ehrlich today if you believe your employment rights have been violated