What is an ‘at-will’ employee?

by Kelly Mulloy Myers, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

In Ohio, an employee is employed “at-will” if they do not have a contract of employment that sets forth the terms and conditions of employment or are a union member protected by a collective bargaining agreement.  “At-will” means the employer or the employee can lawfully terminate the employment relationship at any time without any reason or cause.  There are, however, many exceptions to the at-will doctrine.  For example, an employer may not fire an employee because of a protected characteristic (age, race, religion, national origin, gender, pregnancy, disability) or retaliate against an employee for engaging in protected activity such as complaining about discrimination, taking Family Medical Leave Act leave, or filing a workers’ compensation claim.

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