Can an employee at will be fired without just cause?

I was involved in an auto accident about 10 months ago while on duty for a company. I was injured in the accident, had surgery and PT. I was released to full duty 3 months ago. After being released to full duty, I was told by my employer that I would not be returning to work because the company was moving in an opposite direction and I was no longer employed. I was there refrigeration technician. My job status was changed from full-time status to seasonal while I was off on workmers’ comp.

Asked on May 3, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that in an "at will" employment setting, a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit or deems necessary. This is true unless such action violates the terms of a union agreement, employment contract or company policy. Also, such treatment must not constitute any form of legally actionable discrimination.
Accordingly, unless one of the above exceptions applies, an employer can hire and fire as it chooses (i.e. "at will"). This means that an employee can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, there is no requirement for "just cause" for termination, unless there was an employment contract requiring "just cause." That is what "employment at will" means: your employment is literally at the will of the employer, and it can choose to change or terminate your employment at any time, for any reason. An employee at will has no rights in or to his or her job. Only an employment contract gives you some rights to your job.

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