The Corporate Law Group

“At Will” means never having to say “I’m Reviewing You.”


We almost laughed out loud while reading some recent draft executive employment documents for a friend. Many lawyers are too smart by half. The Buzz tells clients that real at-will employment means that you can fire your absolute best employee any time you want to when they are at the top of their game, and have done everything perfectly, and you love them. With true at-will you do not need any “reason.” But lawyers constantly screw that up by adding “reasons” why the employee can be fired. Courts then ask why you would list reasons when you claim you do not need them. They deduce that, obviously, there is more here than meets the eye and conclude that you did not mean it when you wrote at-will since you also discuss “reasons” to terminate. These particularly drafts, obviously prepared by big firm sort-of-lawyers, even include the old 90 day review-of-employment saw. Why would you review their employment after 90 days when they are employed at-will and every day is just like any other day of employment? The only answer: Because something changes after the review and now they are no longer employed at-will. And worst of all, the agreements say this while continuing to protest that employment is still at-will. Can you say, “schizophrenic……”
Paul Marotta

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