Many workers are employed under at-will employment laws. These are fairly simple, stating that the worker and the employer have agreed to work together, and both of them have the right to terminate that agreement if they’d like to do so. The worker is allowed to quit with or without notice, and the employer is allowed to fire the worker with or without notice.
However, one myth that has sprung up around this is that at-will employment laws are a blanket protection for employers to just fire whoever they want. If the employee says that it doesn’t feel fair or correct, the employer just says that at-will laws mean they can do whatever they want. But this is not actually how it works, and it’s certainly not a blanket protection.
Protected classes are still set aside
The fact of the matter is that at-will employment laws just mean that legal firings can be made at any time, and that employees do not inherently have a right to keep their job. But there are still protected classes, and these firings can still be illegal if they persecute these classes.
For instance, race is a protected class. So an employer can fire a minority worker under at-will employment laws at any time, but they cannot fire that employee because they are a minority worker. This is the same as how they can’t intentionally fire all of the female workers, or all of the workers who are over 40, or all of the workers of a specific religion. When these classes are discriminated against, rights are still violated, even if those workers were at-will employees to begin with.
If this has happened to you, it is incredibly important that you don’t buy into these myths and that you explore all of your legal options.