If you are one of the many Detroit area workers who are not protected by a union, you more than likely are an at-will employee. You may not even realize you are an at-will employee though. Only employees who have signed a specific employment contract (often upper management or union members) are not at-will employees. This means that as an at-will employee, your employment can be terminated at any time, for nearly any reason.
At-will employment rights
However, at-will employees still have rights. No one can be terminated solely based on their gender, race, religion or age. Those with disabilities must be given reasonable accommodations to perform their jobs well and not face termination solely based on their disabilities. These protections are all part of federal law.
Also, as part of federal law, if you report harassment or discrimination at your workplace, you are protected from retaliation. This includes being fired for no other apparent reason than your report of harassment or discrimination.
Federal and state laws also protect whistleblowers who report workplace corruption. So, if you are an at-will employee and report your employer, supervisor or a coworker for possible fraud, embezzlement, corruption or some other illegal activity, you are protected from losing your job as an at-will employee.
If you are terminated after filing a whistleblower complaint, you may be reinstated to your job if you can prove your complaint caused your termination. You also can receive lost wages for the time you spent unemployed, waiting for your whistleblower case to be resolved.
Companies designate most employees for at-will employment because it gives them more latitude to make layoffs in tough economic times and terminate employees who can’t perform their duties. Yet being an at-will employee still comes with protection from facing discrimination or harassment, no matter what your job is.
If you feel you were terminated because of discrimination or reporting workplace corruption, you need to consult an experienced employment law attorney. An attorney can advise you on if you have a case worth pursuing.