Most of the United States uses at-will employment laws. Many employees never even think about it, and just assume that this is naturally how the business relationship works. An at-will employment arrangement is equal for both sides. This means that you can quit at any time or that your employer can fire you at any time. A reason isn’t needed.
One thing to keep in mind when considering at-will employment laws, however, is that employers cannot use them as an excuse for discrimination.
What are the limitations on at-will employment?
An employer can’t fire you based on your gender or religion or national origin and then simply claim that you have no recourse because you are an at-will employee anyway and they chose to terminate the relationship.
The key takeaway is that at-will employment laws specify that a reason may not be needed for the firing, but that that firing also cannot be for an illegal reason. If your employer fires you based on a protected class that you are a part of, that is still illegal, even if they claim that they can do whatever they want without needing to seek a cause to terminate your employment.
So what should you do if you believe you were illegally fired?
A case like this can be very frustrating because you feel like you have been wronged, your career has been hindered and your employer is now claiming that the law itself protects them from a wrongful termination claim.
Remember that it does not. Your rights have still been violated if this has happened to you. You do have legal options, and it may be time to begin exploring them.