At Will Employment Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of At Will Employment, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is At Will Employment?

(n) At Will Employment is the situation by which an employee serve an employer so long as the employer permit or like to maintain the employee-employer relationship. In an ‘At Will Employment’ The employer can discontinue the service of the employee at any time he prefer without any obligation or liability on account of discontinued contract

History and Meaning of At Will Employment

At-will employment is a common law doctrine that states that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all, as long as it does not violate any law. The term "at-will" means that the employer, like the employee, can end the employment relationship at any time, with or without notice or reason. This doctrine has been in practice for many years in the United States, and it varies from state to state.

The at-will employment doctrine was introduced during the nineteenth century in the United States. Before that, employment contracts were usually for a fixed term, and both parties were bound by its provisions until the term expired. However, as the economy grew and the job market increased, employers needed more flexibility to hire and fire employees. At-will employment allowed them to do that without having to worry about contractual obligations.

Examples of At Will Employment

  1. An employee is terminated from their job without any warning or reason given by their employer.
  2. An employer decides to change the job duties of an employee or reduce their pay, and the employee resigns as a result.
  3. An employer decides to lay off several employees due to budget cuts, without having to provide a specific reason for each termination.

Legal Terms Similar to At Will Employment

  1. Constructive Dismissal - situations where an employer has made the employee's working environment so intolerable that the employee feels compelled to resign.
  2. Wrongful Termination - an employee is terminated for a reason that violates the law or public policy.
  3. Implied Contract - when an employer makes promises to the employee that may form an implied contract or when an employee relies on company policies or manuals for job security.