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Employee Free Choice Act- To “At Will” or not To “At Will” That is the Question!

As a mediator of general civil and employment issues I have witnessed how the present predominant “At Will” doctrine has and is failing both employer and employee. It will also hinder college graduates and others entering the American workplace. This form of employment relationship is applying 19th century doctrine to the 21st century. There have been a few changes in the workplace since then.

I’m an employee who decided years ago that learning basic employee rights not only made sense but was mandatory particularly in an At Will environment. At-will simply put means an employee can be fired at any time, for any reason or no reason. The employee can also fire the employer for any or no reason. If the employer fires you, your employment with that organization is over. The burden of proving your termination not being justified is on you! If you are employed At Will, your employer does not need good cause to fire you. However, if you are terminated directly for any reason that violates laws protecting employees against discrimination or retaliation for reporting abuses, At Will doesn’t apply.

I have experienced and have seen how insidiously employers use At Will termination tactics. For example, Amy Employee is fired for alleged insubordination when in truth she was 55 years old and the company wanted a younger person in that position. Amy then files a complaint for age discrimination with the Human Rights Commission. The employer refutes her claim and because Amy like most employees did not educate herself about basic employee rights, now faces an uphill battle. Employers have legal teams that know the game very well. The district court gives a “summary judgment” in favor of the employer and now if Amy has legal representation will have to incur further cost to keep her complaint alive.

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