What is “employment at will” in Mississippi?
“Employment at will” is a practice used in the workplace when no contract exists between the employer and the employee. The concept states that an employer has the right to terminate a worker at any time, with or without cause. The employee, under this concept, has the right to quit a job at any time, with or without cause.
Federal law prevents employment at will from being used by an employer to discriminate. No employee can be terminated on the basis of sex, religion, race, color or country of origin. Also, employees over the age of 40 can not be terminated due to age. Disabled employees can not be fired solely due to their disability.
Human resources managers understand, too, that terminating personnel without cause can reduce employee productivity and create a drop in morale.
Employment at will can be overridden in 38 states by verbal promises, such as a supervisor telling a worker “you will have a job here for life”. Union contracts and other written agreements can override employment at will policies, too.
Most employees understand that they can quit a job whenever they want. Giving an employer two week’s notice is normal, but it isn’t required legally. What employees don’t usually understand is that an employer is equally within its rights to terminate a worker whenever it wants. Employment at will policy is usually spelled out in the company handbook along with other policies. Employees are asked to read the handbook then sign a statement verifying they received the handbook and that they agree to the terms.
An employee isn’t legally required to sign an employment at will document. Neither is the employer legally required a person who doesn’t sign the statement.
In eleven states, including Delaware, Utah and Wyoming, the “employment at will” doctrine doesn’t exist. Instead, employer/employee relationships are covered by the “covenant of good faith and fair dealing.” JH
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