At-will Employment is a common employment arrangement in the United States. It has been the dominant doctrine in American labor law for more than a century but, as with any employment contract, it can be a tricky area to understand. To help employers understand their rights and responsibilities, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions related to At-Will Employment in New York.

What is At-Will Employment?

At-will employment is a doctrine that states an employer-employee relationship can be terminated at any time, for any reason, by either party, with or without cause. This arrangement applies to New York employers unless there is an agreement or implied contract stating otherwise.

In addition, under the at-will doctrine, New York employers may NOT discriminate against employees or terminate their employment based on race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability, or any other trait protected by federal or state law.

What Are Some Situations Where At-Will Employment Does Not Apply?

At-will employment does not apply in the following situations:

1. Where there is an express employment contract that details the terms of employment, including the circumstances under which it can be terminated.

2. Where there is an implied contract that states the terms of employment, including the circumstances under which the employee may be fired.

3. Where an employer has violated public policy or a statute in terminating an employee.

4. Where the employer has made an implied promise not to terminate the employee.

Are Employers Allowed to Terminate Employees At-Will without Notice?

Yes. Employers in New York are generally allowed to terminate employees without providing notice or warning. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, employers may be required to provide advance notice if there is an existing employer policy or agreement providing for advance notification. Additionally, some state laws such as the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act require employers to provide employees with 60 days advance notice of a plant closing, and 30 days notice of any other covered mass layoff.

Are Employers Allowed to Terminate Employees At-Will for Any Reason?

No. While employers may generally terminate at-will employees without giving a reason, this does not give employers the right to terminate an employee for any reason. Employers may not terminate an employee in violation of any applicable state or federal law, including laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, age, or disability.

Where Can I Find More Information About At-Will Employment in New York?

New York employers can contact the New York State Department of Labor for additional information about the state’s at-will employment laws. Additionally, businesses should consider consulting with experienced business attorneys who understand the nuances of at-will employment, New York-specific employment laws, and the interactive labor relationships between employers and employees.


At-Will Employment,

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Employment Laws