At-Will Employment. Is It to Be Mentioned in Offer Letters: Counsel by the U.S. Attorney General

A lot of employees in the United States nowadays work on voluntary basis (it is usually called “at-will employment” or “employment at will”, or “hired at will”). From one point of view, this scheme is very comfortable, because it saves time both for employer and employee. The worker can leave his or her workplace any time due to the necessity or any other reason, the manager has the right to fire any of employees often without a clear motivation. So, this type of relationship is voluntary both for the employer and for the worker. 

But from the other point of view such a peculiarity is sufficient in case when the worker is not satisfied of being dismissed and is going to sue his employer. In this situation it is not so easy to protect oneself and win the claim for unfair firing, for voluntary employment doesn’t stipulate legal consequences like for the breach of labor contract or agreement. Further complications for the former employee can be found in such state as Texas, where the employer is not required to give any rationale for discharge of some of the employees. Here the U. S. Attorney General recommends hiring qualified labor employment attorney, who will teach you how to prepare a lawsuit, behave in court and attain the desirable end.

The phrase “voluntary employment” (or at-will employment) has become rather important for the employers in California. The reason is the Supreme Court in California has made the amendment to labor law, which says that the letter of offer announcing voluntary basis of employment relationship can defeat employee’s claims for unfair dismissal.

The example is the so called “Dore case”. That was the suit between the worker and his employer for wrongful firing. The former employee told that the letter of offer he got had double nature, because he was warned of possibility of being discharged at any time, but he wasn’t told he would be fired without a motivation. The worker also said he was assured of his importance as of an employee. He was also defined as a significant link of the company and the company would treat him like a member of the family. So, he supposed to get a long-term employment. Despite all that he was discharged in two years. However, his claim was rejected in court, because his letter of offer contained the words “employed at will”.

So, the employers must review their letters of offer for the future workers and include the abovementioned key phrase to avoid potential claims. The employee in his turn should use the professional consultation of the attorney to prevent undesirable moments at work.