WHAT DOES AT-WILL EMPLOYMENT REALLY MEAN?

Sometimes even knowledgeable executives think they understand a term and they really do not or they have too much pride to ask for an explanation. Because so much is at stake in understanding the executive employment environment, we are providing a convenient primer: Let us take a look at the law in Illinois, which is a fairly typical jurisdiction in its treatment of employment contract provisions. Illinois is an “at-will” state in terms of employment status. At-will employment means, as a general rule, that an employer can fire an employee for no reason. The exceptions to this general rule are a) a union contract; b) an individual contract with a termination-for-cause provision; c) an implied contract, for example, an employee handbook; d) a public policy violation such as being fired for performing jury duty, serving as a military reservist, filing a workers’ compensation claim, refusing to do an illegal act, or “blowing the whistle”; and e) a violation of civil rights laws concerning race, sex, disability, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Thus, the at-will employment concept is simultaneously simple and complicated.

Disclaimer: This post does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

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