Can hospital employer legally fire me if I do not sign a contract that was not part of my employment agreement terms?

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Can hospital employer legally fire me if I do not sign a contract that was not part of my employment agreement terms?

After I was hired, during the orientation week, HR presented us nurses with a contract stating we must sign, it stated we must stay at this hospital for 3 years and if we leave prior to that 3 years we must pay them $10,000. This was never a condition of my employment nor was it ever even brought up during the entire hiring process. They have not given any bonus monies. I do not want to sign this as this was not what I agreed to when I accepted the job. Can they legally fire me if I don’t sign it?

Asked on August 14, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, New Mexico

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unless you currently have an in-effect or unexpired written employment contract for a definite term (e.g. a one-year, two-year, five-year, etc. contract) which by its tems prevents you from being fired for this reason or otherwise protects your employment, yes, they may fire you if you do not sign the contract they are offering you. Without such an in-effect contract, you are an "employee at will," and an employee at will has no job protections and may be terminated at any time, for any reason, including not signing an offered contract.
If you do currently have a written contract, you may not be fired in violaton of its terms.


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