Saturday, May 22, 2010

Great Strides Fundraiser

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the cystic fibrosis Great Strides annual walk today.

 "Team McLenighan" raised over $400.00!

David and Pat McCarthy

Sunday, May 16, 2010

More About the Work-At-Will Rule

Illinois is a work-at-will state. My advice to prospective clients who have just lost their jobs invariably begins with the proposition that the employment relationship is terminable at will by either party (employer or employee) at any time for any reason or for no reason.

Virtually all the action in employment law over the last 40 years has been in the development of exceptions to the general rule that the employer can terminate the employment relationship whenever it wants to.

Quite recently we received a query from an individual who had lost his long-time job with a national retailer after he was late reporting back to work from a trip overseas that was unrelated to his employment.

He had developed quite a good case to show that he had a good excuse for not getting back to work on time. But he was unable to identify any situation, circumstance or event which - in his case - diminished or eliminated the right of his employer to terminate the employment relationship.

Even if he had reported back to work exactly when and where required, his employer was nevertheless free to terminate the relationship. There are indeed situations in which an employer’s decision to end the employment relationship can fairly be challenged (e.g. discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex, disability).

In the case under discussion here, there was the faintest hint of discrimination on the basis of national origin, but my invitation to him to tell me more about that point went unaccepted.

All this presupposes that the employee does not have a contract for a specified period of time. If the employee does have a contract for employment for a specified period of time and the employer terminates the employement relationship before the period has expired, the termination may be (and often is) actionable on a basic, common law breach-of-contract theory.