At Will Employment and No Notification of Firing

I am a waitress in Ohio and had an argument with my boss about his sister-in-law and her favoritism techniques in doing our schedules and gossiping to other employees. I was, subsequently, taken off the schedule with no dismissal or notification. Other employees told me of this. When I tried to get any answers from him he dodged my phone calls and made me wait to see him for over 2 hours. Is this legally part of the "at will" employment status? And if it is, what can I do to help change this practice?

2 answers  |  asked Jul 12, 2001 12:17 AM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

Answers (2)

Neil Klingshirn
What you can do to help

Hi Jennifer:

Richard provided an excellent discussion of the law. I am concerned, however, that from a practical stand point the short answer is that the law will not be of much help to you. That is, employers in Ohio are generally free to play favorites, as long as they do not do so on one of the unlawful bases identified by Richard. This leaves a lot of room for favoritism, which almost everyone agrees is wrong.

The question that you asked that I liked is "what can I do to change this." The answer is to get political. On top of writing politician, you should contact and get involved with the National Employee Rights Institute. It is a dynamic and creative organization whose aim is to advance employee rights. NERI is gathering cases such as yours that show why the law needs to expand. You can visit NERI's website at

Best of luck,



posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Jul 12, 2001 09:03 AM [EST]
Richard Renner
"concerted activity" NLRB charge and unemployment comp

Ordinarily, employers are free to hire and fire whomever they like. This freedom is called "employment-at-will." It is an ancient English doctrine that never seemed to apply to slaves. Anyway, you are free to quit anytime you like, and the boss can fire you for any reason, or no reason at all, as long as it is not an illegal reason.

The primary protection against an unjust discharge is a union contract. Next time you are employed, think about whether you could get at least half of your co-workers to support a union. Union contracts typically prohibit discharges or discipline without "just cause." Further, layoffs and recalls are typically by seniority.

You can file for unemployment at any Job Services office in the US or

If you had approached the boss as part of a group, or on behalf of a group of employees, you may be protected from retaliation for having engaged in "concerted activity." This protection comes from the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the same law the protects workers who engage in union organization. The time limit to file a charge is 180 days from the date of the retaliation. You can get a charge form at
Find the address for your NLRB office at

A good book lists many laws that protect employees. It is called Job Rights & Survival Strategies. It costs $22.95. Look at:
posted by Richard Renner  |  Jul 12, 2001 07:54 AM [EST]

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