1. What Are Contract Termination Rights?
2. Fault or No-Fault Termination
3. What Is At-Will Employment?

The termination rights contract refers to the rights an employer has to terminate an employee based on their employment contract. These rights should be clearly spelled out in any employment contract. Whether you're an employer or employee, be sure you understand what your contract says about termination.

What Are Contract Termination Rights?

Employment contracts are written agreements between companies and their employees. These contracts will outline some of the following information:

  • Basic expectations and requirements of the job
  • Start date
  • Benefit information
  • Salary or hourly pay information
  • Termination rights

Once an employee signs their employment contract, they are bound to the stipulations and clauses in the agreement. Many business transactions take place with some form of contract involved. These contracts are meant to be binding to a point, however, either party has the right to terminate the agreement on certain grounds. There will be provisions laid out in the contract itself for how such termination should take place.

There are many reasons that either party involved in an agreement may choose to terminate the agreement. Employees might find a different job for better pay or in a different field of work and want to leave their position. Employers may be dissatisfied with the work of a certain employee and therefore desire to replace them.

In order to help avoid legal issues and to provide plenty of clarity, many employment contracts also include these elements:

Fault or No-Fault Termination

One of the important aspects of termination rights is fault or no-fault termination. This is also called cause or no-cause termination. These distinctions refer to the employer's reason for terminating an employment contract. Some termination rights allow a company to fire an employee without cause or for no fault, but others do not.

If the employer wants to be able to end and employee's time with their company without cause, the employee will need to agree to that. With a no-fault termination clause, the employer is usually only required to give the employee a set number of dates notice of their termination and a written notice of the action.

Fault or cause termination is usually used in contracts between business partners. This is meant to protect both partners from having their contract terminated without reason or for bad reasons. In a contract with cause termination, the agreement usually spells out the acceptable causes for terminating employment. It usually mentions issues like bankruptcy or triggering events like the dissolution of the business.

Many service industry employment contracts include no-fault termination because their employment arrangements are usually temporary anyway. Frequently, construction work employment contracts will have this kind of nature, because they employees might only have jobs for as long as a certain project takes to complete. Any businesses with a planned dissolution date and short-term goals will likely specify the end of their business as a trigger for the end of the employment agreement.

What Is At-Will Employment?

At-will employment gives the employer the right to terminate an employee's contract any time for any reason and does not require the employer to provide notice. Basically, most at-will employees can be fired for any reason at any time. This means that an employer can essentially fire an at-will employee for eating waffles instead of pancakes for breakfast.

If you sign an at-will employment contract, you leave yourself without many options in the event that you do lose your job. Usually, the only way an employee can sue an at-will employer for their termination is if there is evidence that the employer broke any labor laws or violated employee rights.

There have been cases where employees were able to prove that they were only able to be fired for cause and sued their previous employers for treating them as at-will employees. Employers have to be careful how they word parts of their employment contracts and even what they say if they want to maintain the right to fire anyone for any reason.

If the contract clearly states that someone is an at-will employee and an employee signs it, they will have a very hard time suing for wrongful termination.

If you need help with understanding the termination rights of a contract, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.