What Is At-Will Employment?
If you live in the United States, but don’t live in the state of Montana nor are employed by a unionized company, the likelihood that you are in at-will employment is VERY high! What is at-will employment and what does it mean for you?
The following snippet from a movie found on YouTube will give you, in story form, what it means to be under an at-will employment contract. From thence I will briefly describe some details about the at-will movement, when it started, and why it’s so popular amongst employers.
What Is Employment?
In business terms, employment is contractual labour. In other words, it’s two parties (you and the company for which you intend to work for) that get together to form a pact. This pact is an agreement that you will work such and such for such compensation for the entity you intend to work for. It may be an hourly-wage situation, a salary, an agreement to work for a specified length of time for a agreed-upon pre-defined compensation. A breach in such contract means a penalty must be paid, which stipulations are included within the contract.
What Is At-Will Employment?
You can see from the above video that the Germans are not happy campers. They were fired at a moment’s notice, better said, without warning. The At-Will Employment Contract did them in. The Hitler-looking main character mentioned the fact that it was because they are German. That remained to be proof-worthy and could be a case. Albeit, it’s not that simple in most cases.
At-will employment is the default “contract” between most of today’s employees and their employers. As above, if the first paragraph in this article doesn’t apply to you, you are very likely an at-will employee. If you are a resident of Montana or you work in a unionized company, you have nothing to worry about “at will” status. You are covered by regulations that impose “just cause” on your employer who cannot terminate you for any old reason.
Essentially, “at-will” means you are under no obligation whatsoever to stay at your job. You can leave and there will be no penalties for doing so. Albeit, quitting a job does have its reciprocation as you perfectly already know. Though you are not required to provide a two-week’s notice, your company is under no laws to keep that private, nor do they if your prospective employer inquires. Employment you seek later on may be denied you for this cause. There is nothing to protect you from how future employers look at the scenario.
It Takes Two to Tango
At will employment also protects the employer. It’s a fair, two-way street, even though today, the employer has the upper hand. You can be fired for good reason, bad reason or no reason at all. Your employer doesn’t have to provide a reason why he/she doesn’t like you. You’re out the door, no questions asked, just take up your belongings and be shown the door.
It could be over personality differences, hygiene, an error you’ve made, the colour of your shirt, what you’ve said, what you’ve done, being late a minute or two, and myriads of other silly reasons. You’re out the door and you have no leg to stand on.
Practically all low-income and hourly-wage employment, if it doesn’t apply to the above exceptions is at will. If being fired from your job violates a public policy, there’s a new facet to this business of at-will employment. Remember the main character stating that it was because they are Germans? This could be a violation of a public policy and I will deal more in-depth with this below.
Why At Will?
Up to and during the 19th century, employment was meted out on more stringent terms. The employee was required by contract to work for a specified amount of time (usually one year as designed by William Blackstone years earlier) and breaking this contract by quitting or walking off came with severe penalties. Likewise, the employer had to keep the employees for the duration of the same specified term (usually one year) and likewise suffered penalties for breaching the contract.
Amongst the earliest proponents to the at-will movement was Horace Gray Wood, who believed the fixed term practice was a violation of the 13th Amendment of the Constitution because it could lead to involuntary servitude. In 1877 he wrote the treatise, Master and Servant, in which the standing employment relations by Blackstone were challenged. The employee should have the right to end the contract and leave the place of employment and likewise, the employer should not be stuck with undesirable employees and should be given the right to dismiss them without cause.
By the beginning of the 20th century, just about every state in the Union adopted these new terms and the rest is history.
There are some exceptions to terminating employees under the at-will code. Some of these are:
- Termination for reasons of race
- Termination for reasons of religion
- Termination for reasons of political belief
- Termination for reasons of disabilities and handicaps
- Termination for reasons of gender
- …and others…
However, it requires an attorney to arbitrate in behalf of the afflicted employee. It is very difficult, if impossible to try to battle a termination without such aid, and legal support doesn’t always guarantee retribution.
The Tables Have Turned
During the 19th century when at-will employment was enacted, this was a crushing blow to employers, as there was a labour shortage throughtout the period. Unlike today, the United States lacked the mechanized resources it has today and the unemployment rate soared at 1 and 2 percent! It stood to reason that companies hated the new act!
Labour shortages continued up to and just beyond WWI. After this, the abundance of machinery replaced many employees who did all the work by hand. This was followed by the Great Depression of 1929. Workers became a dime-a-dozen and very high rates of unemployment occurred on a global scale. Places in Ohio reported upwards to 80% unemployment and this is when the CCC, a labour movement came into being. Now the CCC managed the creation of many of the national parks we have today, including state parks as well. It was not limited to park creation.
Nonetheless, we have never recovered from this turn of events in supply and demand and today employment, rather than employees is the shortage. Today, employers garner the at-will employment act and hold to it dearly. Many employers use it to their advantage in our economically-depressed times, using it to inflict fear amongst employees to keep them on the straight-and-narrow.
Today You Also Have Options…
Your first and foremost option is education. I’m not talking about the kind that comes with a college degree. There are many, many “A” students that work for “C” students, very studious folks working for high-school drop-outs? YES, not only is this not as rare as you might think, it’s rather quite common! There are online lists that exceed a hundred of the best-known folks in this arena. Henry Ford, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Abraham Lincoln, are just a tiny handful!
I’m inviting you to take a look at a membership I’m proudly a part of. It has made a HUGE difference in my life. I have written a post over there which is an extension of what I have here. If you don’t mind reading another article, I invite you to head on over there. You will need to sign in as a free member to see the article, but I’m going to show you how you can exercise one of the options you have available to you, which type of income to strive for and how you can head-off disaster if you should suddenly get fired or laid-off from your current job. I would like you to read on once over there, but also invite you to take a look around the membership as you will also have access to up to two free blogs and free hosting and MUCH more! Mind you, you will have full control on what you put on your blogs and they can be about anything you want that is not objectionable. You will be taught how to build out your core websites and these are yours as long as you like! This membership showcases the Premium but you will get value!
This is all about open, free education. It’s a different kind of education that you may not be aware of, but it’s not the kind you get graded for. You know, if you were to go to your bank and get a loan, your bank could care less about your college education and the degrees you’ve earned there. As you know, they look for other report cards – your financial ones. Get into the right kind of income now and begin to learn about it. For now, you can start a lucrative business on a shoe-string budget and I’m inviting you to see what this is now.
There are no obligations involved in the sign-up. Nobody will hound you if you decide it’s not for you. This is no scam and is 100% legit! I feel for you if you’ve already been taken by unscrupulous idiots out there who took your money and ran, but we operate on total honesty, integrity and the spirit of paying it forward. It’s my hope that you have these attributes in you and that you continue to develop them. Here’s the link. If what I’ve said above touches you, I invite you to come on in and have a look around by clicking the image in this section or the link below…
If you have any comments, please post them below or head over to my Profile Page on the other side of this link. You will find my avatar on the top of the page. Clicking on it will take you to my profile area. Both of these articles are to show folks like yourself that there are better ways than to spend all of your life working in jobs and worrying about how permanent they actually are.