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Looking at the “at-will” employment presumption, and exceptions to the rule, P.2

In our previous post, we mentioned two important statutory exceptions to the at-will employment rule: illegal discrimination and retaliatory termination. As we noted, employers who terminate employees on such bases are typically very cautious about it so as to avoid allegations of wrongdoing. Those who believe they may have been subjected to such illegal termination should, therefore, work with an experienced attorney to help them build the strongest possible case.

Aside from statutory protections against at-will employment, there are also certain exceptions recognized by the courts, such as those based on: public policy, implied contracts, implied covenants of good faith and fair dealing; tort-based claims; and the equitable principle of promissory estoppel. States differ in their recognition of common law exceptions to the at-will employment rule, so it is important to work with an experienced attorney who understands the law in the jurisdiction.

Another important exception to at-will employment is contractual agreements providing protections to the employee. Typically, this only occurs with high level employees such as CEOs and other executives, though it is not necessarily limited to such employees. Educators, for instance, often have due process protections when it comes to termination, and these deserve to be protected.

Those who believe they may have been terminated from their employment in violation of statutory or common law protections, or in violation of an express agreement, should get in contact with an experienced employment law attorney to have their case evaluated and to determined the best steps to take in their case. Not every wrongful termination case will be fit for litigation, but an experienced attorney will work to zealously represent his or her client’s interests regardless of the resolution sought in the case. 

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