Are you an “at-will” employee? Unless you have an individual employment contract for a specific period of time, are a union employee working under a bargained-for contract, have tenure, or are a government employee with civil service rights, you are probably an “at-will” employee.
“At-Will” employment means either party can end the relationship at any time, for any reason, except one of the very specific reasons forbidden by law. An at-will relationship between an employer and an employee in Tennessee means your employer can terminate your employment for good reason, bad reason, or no reason, as long as it is not an illegal reason. It is a common, but incorrect, belief that a company can’t fire you if you did nothing wrong. In truth, in Tennessee (and almost all locations in the U.S.), the company can do what it wants in almost all cases of termination. In almost all situations, the company can fire you even if you are the best employee ever employed at the company; it can fire you even if it does not follow its own handbook procedure in any way; and, it can fire you even if it is totally mistaken about what you supposedly did wrong. If you are an at-will employee you can be fired and never even told a reason for the decision. An at-will employment status means you can be fired on your birthday, on your 30-year employment anniversary, or on Christmas Eve. However, there are exceptions for at-will employees and an employment lawyer can determine if your situation falls under one of those exceptions.
You need to consult a lawyer about your employment situation because you may be one of the individual who does have a legitimate legal right regarding your employment, even if you are an at-will employee. You may be entitled to Family and Medical Act Leave, an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, unemployment benefits, or overtime pay. Your situation could result in a negotiated severance package, reinstatement or a transfer. You may have a claim that could be suitable for an Equal Employment Opportunity charge of discrimination or a lawsuit.
Any lawyer can accept an employment case. However, your outcome may be significantly better if you choose a lawyer that regularly handles employment cases. Employment law changes monthly, and it can be hard for a lawyer to keep up with all the reading required if he or she has other main areas of practice. Employment law is an area full of complex, fact-specific law, and most lawyers do not want to practice in this area for individual plaintiffs. There are many defense employment lawyers who get paid to defend companies from the claims of individuals. But there are far fewer plaintiffs’ lawyers for the simple reason it is a David versus Goliath type of law practice. There are not many cases resulting in large settlements, so plaintiffs’ lawyers often are paid much less than defense lawyers earn. If you have any choice at all, try to find an employment lawyer who focuses on representing individuals.
Don’t assume that you know the rights you may have or the possible outcome of your situation. Call our office today at (865) 474-1284 to discuss your East Tennessee employment situation.
Employment law covers every aspect of the relationship between an employer and an employee. Even the question of whether there is an employment relationship between two people can be a complex legal question. Typical employment law questions are:
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Disclaimer: The information contained on this website does not constitute legal advice. It is general information only and will not apply to every situation. No attorney-client relationship exists between you and Young Law Office, P.C. until an in-person meeting has occurred and a representation agreement has signed by both parties. Please be aware that the firm accepts cases in the East Tennessee area only.