Note: Our Minnesota employment attorneys represent companies and executives.

Minnesota At-Will Employment Attorney

Most employers hire employees without an employment contract that defines a specific length of employment or circumstances justifying employment. This type of employment is called “at-will.” It is at the will of each party. The employer may fire the employee at any time and for almost any reason, excluding prohibited discrimination and retaliation. Likewise, the employee may generally quit at any time, for any reason.

When hiring employees, it is important for employers to determine if the position is at-will and note this in writing. If this is the case, the employer has the authority to terminate employees at any time, for almost any reason. However, all employees are protected under state and federal laws that make certain reasons for firing illegal.

While you do not need an at-will agreement, often employers can refuse to hire a person for refusal to sign the at-will employment agreement.

Even if an employee is an employee at-will, the employee cannot be terminated for an unlawful reason. Listed below are many of the unlawful reasons that may give rise to an employee having a legitimate claim against you, the employer:

  • Unlawfully discriminating against an employee by terminating the employee due to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, physical or mental disability, receipt of public assistance, and age.
  • Retaliation for whistle blowing – Minnesota law protects an employee who, in good faith, reports a violation or suspected violation of any federal or state law or rule adopted pursuant to law to an employer or to any governmental body or law enforcement official. Minn. Stat. §181.932.
  • Retaliation for the employee’s complaining to the employer or a government agency (such as the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry) that the employer failed to pay the employee minimum wage and overtime in accordance with the federal and Minnesota wage and hour laws.
  • Retaliation for filing a claim of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR).
  • Retaliation for a reporting an incidence of sexual harassment to the employer or the EEOC or the MDHR.
  • In some states, the law implies a covenant of good faith and fair dealing in employment relationships. Minnesota, among many other states, has not generally this implied covenant.

Some terminated employees mention Minnesota is a “right to work state” and mistakenly believe this gives them a right to their job. Right-to-Work laws are not related to wrongful termination. Right-to-Work laws relate to unions and “open shops” and prohibit agreements between labor unions and employers making membership or payment of union dues or fees a condition of employment, either before or after hiring.

Contact an attorney in this area