abuse of 'at will employment' clause

The 'employment at will' clause is being abused by the employers these days. I am an engineer. In my last job, my employer wrote explicitly the 'employment at will' clause in the offer letter. After few months, my boss told me that the project will stop for at least 4-5 months and they have to 'let me go'. They didn't do any formal exit process, didn't give me any compensation or severance, didn't pay for my accrued vacation, didn't give any discharge letter, just wrote me a check for the last days I worked. In my present job also, my employer wrote explicitly on my offer letter that my job can be terminated for any reason or no reason. 4-5 weeks after started, they have started giving me hints about probable termination. As there is no reason that I can see which might have caused this, I see that they are just misusing the 'at will clause' of the offer letter. Since they write the offer letter this way, there is not much that I can do when I accept the offer. Also I feel it very distressful as I can't do anything here. As an employee where exactly I stand? Is there anything which protects employees from all these abuse? Is there anything in this country which works in a fair (!!!) way?

1 answer  |  asked Nov 28, 2004 01:51 AM [EST] in Employment Law  |  applies to California

Answers (1)

Janet M. Koehn
california is 'at-will'

california is an "at-will" state. that means, unless the employer and employee agree otherwise, that you can be terminated at any time without cause. equally, you can resign at any time. while you may feel exploited, there is nothing illegal about terminating your employment after only a brief time.
it is however, illegal not to pay you all accrued vacation immediately upon your termination. you can file a claim for your unpaid vacation time with the dept. of labor standards enforcement (dlse), in the state pages of your phone book.

posted by Janet M. Koehn  |  Nov 28, 2004 02:14 AM [EST]

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