Business is an important part of each one of our lifestyles and quality of life. Commerce in the United States has some regulation but is largely the will of the people. Businesses and employees must pay taxes, obtain proper permits, and sometimes obtain proper licensing. However, the main methods and processes by which organizations conduct their business are controlled directly by the particular organization.

Choosing Your Own Terms in the Employment Relationship

This is also true with respect to employment within a business. There is some regulation placed upon businesses with respect to the hiring of employees. For example, businesses are not permitted to hire employees under a certain age or employees physically in this country without the permission of the government. Businesses must comply with workers’ compensation, social security, unemployment, and other payment requirements. Generally, however, the employment decisions of a business are left solely to the discretion of the business.

At-Will Employment

Employers are free to decide whether they hire an employee for a certain number of years or whether they hire an employee for an unspecified period of time. If an employer and employee do not agree to a certain length or term of employment, Minnesota will imply that the employment relationship is “at-will.” This means that the employee is free to leave the job at any time. It also means that the employer is free to fire the employee at any time.

If an employment relationship is at-will, both the employer and employee are free to terminate the relationship at any time and for any reason with a few exceptions: employers are never free to discriminate against people in protected classes. The FMLA, ADA, and other laws prohibit discrimination in the employment context.

Employment Contracts

On the other hand, employers and employees are free to enter a contract that lays out the length or term of the employment relationship which will terminate after a specified time or on a specified date.

Employment Disputes: Settlement and Trial

Often, disputes related to employment can be resolved prior to a lawsuit through negotiation. Letting the other party know your dissatisfaction and the claims you believe you may have against the other party begins the negotiation process but saves the fees and the process service costs associated with court filings. Proposing a settlement is often the easiest and cheapest way to begin resolving your dispute.

However, there are times that filing a lawsuit from the very beginning may give you a strategic advantage. This determination will be based upon the strength and weaknesses of your claims, the outcome which you seek, and the temperament of your opposing party.

If you file a lawsuit, you may still explore settlement opportunities while the litigation continues. You will also be able to obtain information from the other side, and the other side will obtain information from you as well. The ultimate resolution to a lawsuit is, of course, a trial. The decision about which side wins and which side loses may be up to a judge, or it may be up to a jury. Under some circumstances, you can choose whether you would like this decision to be made by a judge or a jury.