Bryan Tuk

At Will Employment: What You Need to Know

The employer – employee relationship is a complex one.  It can be fulfilling and enhance your quality of life, or it can be contentious to the point of affecting one’s health.  From a legal standpoint, most employment relationships are “at will”.

How do you know if you’re not an at will employee?  You know if you have a written employment agreement or you are a union member that is covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

In at will employment relationships, both the employer and employee can terminate the relationship at any time for any reason or for no reason at all.

That’s right – no reason at all.

Let’s say your employer is a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan.  You show up to work in your Eli Manning, NY Giants home jersey.

Your Eagles – rooting boss, driven insane with the intensity of the Eagles-Giants rivalry, terminates you on the spot, but does not cite a reason why.  You reply by saying that “You can’t spell ELITE without ELI”, and leave the premises.

Is this permissible?

The answer is yes, with a big qualification:  the termination is probably not actionable IF the employer did not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age, religious affiliation, veterans status, disability or perceived disability, or any other protected class, or retaliate against the employee for reporting safety issues or criminal/fraudulent conduct.

The answers to employment law questions – whether from the employer side or employee side – are very fact specific.  As a result, it is tremendously important to seek competent legal counsel to evaluate the facts and circumstances of your particular matter.

Bryan Tuk is an Allentown attorney focused on business law, family law & nonprofits and arts organization law.  You can follow him on Twitter @BryanTukArtsLaw.