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How Do I Know if I Am an At-Will Employee?

How Do I Know if I Am an At-Will Employee?

In the United States, most jobs are what's known as at-will, meaning your employer is free to hire and fire you-and you're free to quit-at almost any time and for almost any reason. If you've been terminated, you may be wondering if your dismissal was legal. The answer may hinge on whether you're an at-will employee.

At-Will Employees

At-will employment laws are created at the state level. By default, you are an at-will employee unless:

  • You have a written, signed employment contract
  • You are a union worker who is bound by a collective bargaining agreement

Some states recognize the concept of implied or verbal employment contracts. If you live in such a state, your employment attorney may be able to make the case that you were not an at-will employee and you deserve job reinstatement or compensation for your termination.

People who are not at-will employees may be subject to additional rules and requirements regarding their job. For example, an employee with a job contract may have a contract that explicitly states the worker's employment will end on a specific date. Or a union worker may have to resolve certain job-related disputes through the union's grievance process.

An employment lawyer can help you better understand your legal rights.

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