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Employment Law - Just Cause vs. At-Will Employment

What does Just Cause and At-Will Employment Mean?

In every state except for Montana, the default rule for terms and conditions of employment is the “at-will” doctrine. This means that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason or for no reason at all, and in turn, the employee can resign at any time without having to specify any reason for doing so. However, there are exceptions to this rule: it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee for a discriminatory reason, in retaliation for either opposing discrimination, or in some cases, in retaliation for complaining about illegal practices. Also note that the at-will doctrine does not always apply in cases where employees are represented by a union in the workplace and have due process procedures in their collective-bargaining agreements that have to be exhausted before termination.

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