Are You Protected Under the Law?
If you have an employment contract with your employer, the terms of the contract control your relationship.
An employee handbook is not a contract.
A letter of intent or a letter confirming the start of your employment is not a contract.
If you have an employment contract, you will know it. If you have any questions about whether or not you have an employment contract, e-mail me, or call me to discuss it.
If you do not have an employment contract, then in 38 states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, you are an employee-at-will. That means that you can come or go as you please, and your employer can hire you, or fire you, or promote you or demote you as s/he pleases. If you do not like the way you are treated by your employer, as an employee-at-will, your remedy is to quit and find another job.
The alternative, in the other 12 states, is called "just cause." In those states, the employer must have just cause to fire an employee. In the employee-at-will states, there is no such just cause requirement. If you don’t think that’s fair, call your state representatives, because the only way to change it, is to change the law.
You have virtually no rights concerning unfair treatment as an employee-at-will . .. . . UNLESS . . .
IT’S AGAINST THE LAW
An employer in an employee-at-will state is still not allowed to break the law. The laws that exist to protect you, are the anti-discrimination/ harassment laws, both Federal and State.
TITLE VII – gives protection against discrimination or harassment based on:
IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING HARASSMENT OR DISCRIMINATION BASED ON ANY ISSUE OTHER THAN THESE SEVEN – YOU PROBABLY ARE NOT PROTECTED UNDER THE LAW.
IS NO PROTECTION FROM
However, if you are not sure of whether the treatment you are experiencing is protected under the law, you should check with an attorney who specializes in Employment Law. The National Employment Lawyer’s Association, (NELA), can give you a referral to an experienced employment law attorney in your area. Check their contact information on the "Related Websites"page
Many (but not all) states have their own anti-discrimination laws. Some of them are the same as the federal laws. Some are not as good as the federal law. A couple are even better than the state law because they offer additional protection not offered by the federal laws. (If you live in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Minnesota, or California—Congratulations!)
If you want to proceed against your employer under the federal laws, your first step MUST be to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This is the federal agency that was created to administer the anti-discrimination laws. The EEOC is charged with the responsibility of investigating and trying to resolve your claim. However, the number of claims has increased so much over the last ten years, that unless you are attempting to sue a very large corporation, or the type of abuse you are describing could serve as an example to an industry, the chances are the EEOC will not have the resources to resolve your claim.
DISCLAIMER: This website is intended to give general information on a very complicated area of the law. None of the information in this website is to be construed as legal advice; it is for informational purposes only. No information provided in this website, or communications made over its affiliated e-mail address, is to be considered as having created an attorney-client relationship. The materials provided in this website provide summaries only. Employment law cases are very fact-intensive and fact-sensitive. An evaluation of an actual case requires an extensive discussion of the specific facts and a thorough evaluation based on those facts and the applicable law.