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At-will employment disclaimers causing problems nationwide

A majority of people in Indiana know that our state is one of many that allow for at-will employment. As many of our readers know, at-will employment means that an employer can end the employment of any worker for any or no reason as long as the termination of the employment is not done so in an unlawful matter.

Although this may seem straight forward, complications often times arise and can lead to incredibly messy litigation. But this confusion isn't just happening here in Indiana either; in fact, a series of cases across the nation have actually forced the National Labor Relations Board to issue two "advice memoranda" that are intended to shed light on how your employer can tell you that they are an at-will employer and whether their disclaimer could be considered discriminatory.

The issue of whether an employer should tell you if they are an at-will employer and how they word such a disclaimer became the center point for two recent cases out of Arizona. In both cases, an administrative law judge concluded that the at-will disclaimers used by two separate employers were discriminatory and violated the workers' rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

When the workers were offered the jobs at the company, they were also asked to sign an employment agreement. But because of choice of wording, it was decided that the at-will disclaimer was asking employees to sign a waiver of their right to change their at-will status under Section 7 of the NLRA-a section that gives employee the right to self-organization and the right to form and bargain collectively through a labor union .

Although some employers may not require a future employee to sign such a disclaimer, there are many that may and it's important to check the language before putting pen to paper. It's in situations like this that a person can find themselves a victim of wrongful termination.

Source: Lexicology.com, "NLRB issues new guidance on at-will disclaimers," H. Ellis Fisher, Jan. 9, 2013

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