North Dakota “At Will” Employment and Wrongful Termination

The phrase “gig economy” sounds thrilling, unless you have actual financial responsibilities.  What is not to love about turning your talents and determination into financial gain and not having to answer to a boss?  Of course, making your living through freelance gigs means no job stability and no employer-sponsored retirement plan or health insurance. Employees have legal and financial protections that freelance workers do not. In particular, you may have an employment contract that specifies the conditions under which your employer can fire you from your job. Do not despair if the contract says that the employer can fire you “at will;” you still have some legal protections. If you think you were fired from your job unjustly, contact attorney Sean Foss.

“At Will” Employment is Legal in North Dakota 

“At will” employment generally means that the employer may fire the employee whenever he or she wishes and that the employee may quit for any reason as well. (It is good etiquette, although not legally required, for an employee to give two weeks’ notice before leaving.) Unless there is an employment contract saying otherwise, North Dakota law considers all employment relationships to be at will. Taken to its logical conclusion, that would mean that hundreds of thousands of workers in North Dakota are in a precarious situation in which their bosses can make the impulsive or downright malicious decision to fire them from jobs on which the workers and their families depend for financial support. In actuality, wrongful termination laws protect workers from being fired from their jobs unfairly.

What is Wrongful Termination?

“At will” employment means that there are many reasons that an employer can fire an employee, and it is the employer’s right to do so. Some reasons, however, count as wrongful termination.  These are reasons for which you cannot fire an employee in North Dakota.

  • Breach of Contract: If the employer and employee have signed a contract promising employment for a specified period of time, the employer cannot fire the employee before the contract expires.
  • Discrimination: An employer cannot fire the employee because of the employee’s racial or ethnic background, religion, or gender.
  • Public Policy: Various labor and employment statutes provide employees with protection. For example, employees protected by the Family & Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) have the right to take medical leave under specified circumstances, and an employer cannot terminate an employee for exercising such right.
  • Retaliation: Retaliation is when an employer fires an employee in retaliation for the employee complaining about his or her supervisor. Likewise, an employer cannot fire an employee for exercising rights such as joining a labor union, taking legally-mandated breaks, or taking maternity leave. 

Contact O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss About the Rights of Employers and Employees

Wrongful termination laws protect employees from losing their jobs at the whims of their employers. These laws also protect employees from discrimination in the workplace. If you think you have been fired from your job unjustly, consult attorney Sean Foss. Contact O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss in Fargo, North Dakota to discuss your case or call 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002.

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