What is "Employment At Will"?

In meeting with employees, I often am asked about "Employment at Will". What does it mean? When does it apply? Is it the same as "Right to Work"? Here's the answer: "Employment at Will" and "Right to Work" are two different concepts that can be confusing and are often mixed up by employees. But they are very different concepts.

"Employment at Will" means that an employee can be terminated at any time, for any reason or for no reason at all. If the employer decides to let you go, that's the end of your job--and you have very limited legal rights to fight your termination. If you are employed "at will", your employer does not need good cause to fire you. In every state but Montana (at last check), employers are free to adopt at-will employment policies, and virtually all do. In fact, unless your employer gives some clear indication that it will only fire employees for good cause, the law presumes that you are employed at will.

Even "at will" employees, however, cannot be terminated for an illegal reason.