Discrimination ] Title VII ] Sexual Orientation Discrimination ] Harassment ] Age Discrimination ] Disability Discrimination ] [ Wrongful Termination ] The E.E.O.C. and State Agencies ]

Wrongful Termination

Most people who are fired believe they were wrongfully terminated. The truth is, in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as in 38 states in our Union, unless an employee has a specific employment agreement, that employee is an EMPLOYEE AT WILL.

Under the Employee at Will Doctrine, employees are free to come and go as they please, and employers are free to hire, fire, promote, demote, or abuse employees as they please, UNLESS they are breaking a law. If an employee does not like the way s/he is being treated, his/her remedy is - find another job.

The only exceptions to the Employee At Will Doctrine are:

DISCRIMINATION:  The laws that protect employees from unlawful termination are the anti-discrimination laws, discussed at the other places on this website. Violating any law with respect to treatment of employees in the workplace trumps the Employee At Will Doctrine.

CONTRACTS:  A formal employment agreement takes an employee out of the classification of "employee at will." The employee becomes subject to the terms of the agreement, which normally provide for termination of the employee under certain circumstances. A contract usually contemplates being terminated "for cause," (obviously bad or illegal conduct), or "not for cause," (company changes it's strategies, employee doesn't perform to expectations). A contract has a start date, and a definite term (which may automatically renew at intervals). A contract general sets forth the responsibilities of the company to the employee, and the responsibilities of the employee to an employer. THE CONTRACT IS FREELY BARGAINED FOR, AND INDIVIDUAL TO THE EMPLOYEE. If you have an employment contract, you know it.

PUBLIC POLICY EXCEPTIONS:  Certain situations are so repugnant to the public conscience, that they will constitute an exception to the at-will doctrine. For example, as of 1999, an employer may not terminate an employee because that employee files a claim for Worker's Compensation benefits. An employer may not terminate an employee for refusing to engage in illegal activities, or for reporting for jury duty. But, that's about it. The Employee-At-Will Doctrine is a cherished concept to employers, and precious few situations are going to qualify as exceptions.

Discrimination ] Title VII ] Sexual Orientation Discrimination ] Harassment ] Age Discrimination ] Disability Discrimination ] [ Wrongful Termination ] The E.E.O.C. and State Agencies ]

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.