A written at-will employment policy is enormously useful in litigating wrongful discharge claims because it can rebut an employee’s claim that he or she could be fired only if your company had good cause. It is also the law in California. Cal. Lab. Code §2922.
Your company’s handbook should:
- Include a precise definition of the terms of the at-will nature of the employment relationship; and
- Clearly explain that employment can be terminated:
- At any time;
- With or without cause; and
- With or without notice, either by your company or the employee.
Regardless of your handbook’s at-will language, your company may remain vulnerable to an allegation that:
- An employee’s termination violated public policy. For example, an employee is fired because of “whistle blowing” to a government agency; or
- An employee’s termination violated a specific statute. For example, the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
Tamara L. Harper strives to balance company and employee needs. At-will language can be extremely threatening to employees, raising doubts about job security. From a legal standpoint, precisely written at-will language is valuable; from a human resources standpoint, at-will language can be problematic. On balance, your company may choose to include at-will language and resolve fears among personnel through employee education.
I can draft and update your employment handbooks and personnel policies. With both employment law and human resources legal expertise, I prepare and review your handbooks to comply with the law, reflect your organizational culture, and further your human resources strategies.
For a legal review of your company handbook, or help drafting and updating policies, please contact me for a complimentary email or telephone consultation and cost estimate.