All states, including New York, are considered employment at-will states. If you are an employee or employer, what does this mean for you?
Basically, this means that either party can end their employment at any time. A worker can quit a job for any reason. At the same time, an employer can also decide to fire or lay off an employee whenever they feel like it. They do not need a specific reason to do so.
At-will agreements are technically not needed, since at-will employment is legal in all 50 states. However, some employers will use them anyway to ensure that employees are aware of their employment status. While you could refuse to sign this agreement, a company could contend that they could fire you for not doing so.
You should not sign an at-will agreement if it will unfairly benefit your employer. For example, if your employer promises you a full year of training, that is a great deal for you. Do not sign the agreement and lose out on this opportunity.
Exceptions to At-Will Employment
While at-will employment allows an employer to fire an employee for pretty much any reason, there are several exceptions. One is public policy. Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination and retaliation. This means that you cannot be fired simply because of your age, religion, race, gender or marital status, nor can you lose your job because you filed a complaint against your employer and they fired you as revenge.
Contracts can also contradict the at-will policy. If an employer has the employee sign the contract guaranteeing certain employment factors, then ending the employment could create legal issues. Even oral statements and promises could be considered contracts.
Those who are in unions may not be subject to employment-at-will laws. The agreement may contain language that would define situations in which a person could be terminated.
Is it Wrongful Termination?
When does at-will employment turn into wrongful termination? When laws are broken and promises are not kept. If you and your boss have an implied contract, and you are fired before the terms are met, you could have a case. For example, if your manager discusses a project that is set to start in six months, it is reasonable to think you will still have a job at that time. However, if you are suddenly fired before that project starts, you may be able to claim wrongful termination.
People are often fired for discrimination and retaliation, and this is illegal. If you have reason to believe that you were fired based on your age, disability, race, gender, or other characteristics, seek legal help right away.
Contact a New York Employment Law Attorney
While New York is an employment-at-will state, there are some exceptions. If you were fired from your job for illegal reasons, we can help.
The employment law attorneys at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. can assess your case and see if any laws apply. We can assist you in getting the compensation you deserve. Schedule a free consultation today. Fill out the online form or call (347) 727-0661.