Legal Remedies for “At Will Employees”

legal remedies at will employees

While most employees are considered “at will”—meaning that they may be terminated for any reason and at any time—they still have legal rights when they are improperly treated and/or wrongfully terminated, including receiving compensation already accrued, continued health care, and, in some cases, severance, the collection of unemployment benefits, and other damages. If an employee believes that he or she had been improperly terminated, he or she must establish a basis for alleging wrongful termination. Listed below are some of the more common examples of improper, and potentially actionable, treatment by an employer:

Breach of Good Faith and Fair Dealing

Employers are generally required to act in good faith and deal fairly with their employees. If this does not happen and an employee is improperly terminated by his or her employer, the employee may have a claim against the employer for breach of duty and good faith. Common breaches found by courts include: (1) misleading the employee about a promotion or wage increase in an attempt to induce an employee not to leave the company and/or pursue another employment opportunity, and (2) “forcing” an employee to quit by assigning him or her undesirable or dangerous job tasks, shift assignments, etc.

Violations of Public Policy

In most states, there must be a specific law or policy that sets forth the “public policy” at issue. Examples of these, which an individual cannot be fired for, include: (1) serving on a jury, (2) taking time out to vote, or (3) engaging in active duty military service or serving in the national guard.


Retaliation by an employer generally involves discrimination for participating in a legally protective activity. Discrimination, even involving “at will” employees, is improper. However, to prove retaliation discrimination, an employee must prove that: (1) he or she was engaged in a legally protected activity, (2) that the legally protected activity caused the employer to act (or react), and (3) the employer’s action adversely created consequences for the individual, i.e., he or she was fired, denied a promotion, or given an unwarranted annual performance evaluation. A legally protected activity includes all aspects of trying to oppose or remedy discrimination such as (1) opposition to a practice believed to be unlawful discrimination, (2) participation in an employment discrimination proceeding or even (3) requesting a reasonable accommodation based on religion or disability.


An employer who commits fraud generally does so in the recruiting process. In order to prove fraud, the employee must show (1) the employer made a false representation, (2) a supervisor, manager, or someone in a position of authority was aware of the false representation, (3) the employer intended that the person would rely on the false representation, (4) the person relied on the false representation, and (5) the person was harmed because of the reliance on the false representation.


State laws vary regarding the protection that is afforded to employees that report employers that break laws or regulations. However, most states have whistle-blowing laws, which protect such employees from being terminated because they reported the employer’s conduct to the appropriate regulating body.

If you believe that you have been wrongly terminated for any reason, including those identified above, post a short summary on and let the perfect attorney come to you! 

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Posted - 03/22/2016