Understanding employment at will

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (Mass Appeal) –  If you are employed at will, does your employer need to have good cause to fire you? Attorney Robert Dambrov from the Law Offices of Cooley Shrair in Springfield shared more.

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Must an employer have good cause to fire someone?
No, except in certain situations. The law in Massachusetts as well as in most other states is that a worker is what’s called an Employee At Will. This means that the person is employed at the will of the employer and can be fired without the employer needing to have any reason, or good cause, and without any advance notice. However, there are exceptions to this.

What are some of the exceptions?
One exception is that the employer cannot violate an agreement it has with the employee that requires the employer to have cause to fire the employee. Even if the agreement does not specifically refer to this, if the agreement is for a definite period time, such as an employment contract for one or more years, Massachusetts law implies that the employer must have just cause. Even if an employee does not have his/her own specific employment agreement, sometimes good cause to fire someone can be implied from the provisions of a general employee handbook or an employer’s policies. Another type of an agreement is a union collective bargaining agreement which usually requires that, once the employee passes a probationary period, he/she cannot be fired without just cause. Another exception is that an employer cannot violate the law, such as discrimination on the basis of a protected category such as age, sex, color, national origin, handicap, etc.

Must an employment agreement be in writing?
Not necessarily, although it is always advisable to have any such agreement in writing to avoid a misunderstanding. If the agreement is for employment for at least one year or more, so that it cannot be performed within a year, the agreement is valid even though it is not in writing. However, if the agreement can be performed within a year, Massachusetts law requires that the agreement be in writing. This is so even if the agreement is for lifetime employment since the employee could die within a year.

For more information call (413) 781 – 0750 or visit www.CooleyShrair.com.

About Cooley Shrair:
Cooley, Shrair P.C., founded in 1946 by Judge Sidney M. Cooley and Attorney Edward B. Cooley, is a progressive law firm located in Springfield, MA. Cooley Shrair provides unequaled service to its clients. Our unparalleled response time to our clients’ needs is the foundation of our mission statement.

At Cooley Shrair, family and business have always had a way of blending together. We know the importance of balancing the boardroom and the courtroom with the living room from time to time. We listen carefully to understand our clients’ concerns and work vigorously with them to develop strategies for success. It’s not just business, it’s personal.

We pride ourselves in being the most responsive lawyers in the area, covering virtually every area of practice for individuals and multinational corporations across the United States and Canada. Cooley Shrair is recognized consistently for exceeding client expectations and providing competent, integrated, and cost-effective legal services.

Our attorneys are each distinguished in their respective areas of concentration and are complemented by a professional support staff. Cooley Shrair is a formidable opponent who fiercely advocates on behalf of our clients and we take pride in our commitment to provide unparalleled response and unparalleled solutions.

We’re a family, and to us, that’s very personal business.

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