Understanding “At-Will” Employment

On Behalf of | May 7, 2014 | Employment Law, Legal Rights And Issues |

If you’re like the vast majority of Ohio employees and are not currently under contract for your employment, congratulations! You’re most likely an at-will employee. So what exactly does that mean?

Think of employment at-will as freedom. If you don’t like your current working situation, as an at-will employee you are free to quit at any time you like. But that freedom extends to your employer as well. As an at-will employee, your employer is allowed to terminate you for any reason or no reason at all, so long as it does not violate some very specific state and federal laws.

As one of the attorneys at JKFM Law specializing in employment law, I handle a number of calls every day from employees angry with their supervisors for various workplace concerns. Because at-will employees lack any type of contract which lists out how these workplace matters will be handled, law’s response to the employees’ concern is “find a new job”.

So what, if any, protections do at-will employees have in Ohio?

First, your employer is prohibited from discriminating against you because of some certain protected characteristics. If you’ve been fired, suspended or demoted because of your race, gender, age, disability, national origin or military status, your rights may have been violated and it’s probably time to contact anexperienced employment attorney.

Second, there are some very specific federal protections for certain at-will employees. If you need to take time off due to a serious medical condition of yourself or a family member, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may protect your job. Similarly, if you’ve been fired because of your use of your employer’s health insurance, you may have rights under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). There may be other federal or state protections for your particular case and situation.

At-will employees may lose the protection and benefits of an employment contract, but you certainly have rights that deserve defending. If you recently have been terminated or discriminated at work, contact an attorney at JKFM Law to discuss your potential case, before it’s too late.


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