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Can At-Will Employees Be Wrongfully Terminated?

April 29, 2021

People in Georgia have many different types of jobs. These jobs have many different types of requirements. People may work in various office settings, work construction jobs, work in the medical field in various roles, be teachers, food service workers, work in retail and many other types of jobs. These various jobs have many differences, but many of these workers do have something in common and that is that many are considered at-will employees.

Being an at-will employee means that they do not have an employment contract which states that they will be working with the company for a specific period of time. The employee can quit at any time for any reason and likewise the employer can fire them at any time for almost any reason. Because of this even if the employee thinks the firing was unfair or a poor business decision, it does not necessarily mean that they were wrongfully terminated. However, there are certain limitations that employers do have when it comes to firing or discipling at-will employees.

Wrongful Termination for At-Will Employees

Employers cannot discriminate against their employees based the employees’ race, gender, age, religion, national origin, disability and other protected classes. If the employer takes adverse actions against an employee based on those reasons the employee may have a wrongful termination claim against their employer.

In addition to the being protected from discrimination, at-will employees are also protected against retaliation for reporting illegal activity, which includes discrimination and harassment. They also cannot retaliate against employees who participate in investigations into co-workers’ claims.

Even though it may seem like at-will employees have little protection from being fired, they are protected from discrimination and retaliation. If they are fired for either reason the employee may be entitled to compensation from the employer. This compensation can include back pay, future pay, lost benefits and other damages. These can be complicated matters though and experienced attorneys may be able to help protect people’s rights.