At-will employment is used in most of the states in the U.S., although it is uncommon in the rest of the world. It’s important to understand how these employment laws work and the benefits and drawbacks that they provide for you.
It’s also important to note that you are not an at-will employee if you have a contract. For example, many executives or others who have salaried positions are going to sign employment contracts. If you have done this, then the at-will laws described below are not going to apply to you in the same way that they would to someone who is simply an employee without a contract or a salary.
You can be fired at any time
The downside is that at-will employment means that your boss can fire you at any time. They can also do it for any reason, as long as it’s not illegal – such as religious discrimination. You may not believe that the reason for the firing is fair or just, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s illegal. You may also think you’re being fired for something that isn’t your fault, but the fault is not necessary under at-will employment laws.
You can quit at any time
The benefit to you is that you can also leave your job any time that you want, without penalty. Many employers will ask you to give a two weeks’ notice, but this isn’t actually required. You could simply wake up and decide never to go to your job again, and you would not have broken any laws because you didn’t have a contract saying that you had to reach a certain date or provide advance notice.
Those involved in employment disputes need to understand all of their legal options.