Common Misconceptions About At-Will Employment
Many people think they live in at-will employment states, and most of them are correct. Most states do subscribe to the at-will employment doctrine. At-will means the employer can fire you for any reason or no reason. But there is a BIG caveat to this—at will is not a license to discriminate.
Can My Employer Fire Me for Any Reason
While an employer can fire you for any reason or no reason, or even for the wrong reason, an employer cannot fire you for an illegal reason. An illegal reason would be firing you because of your race, color, national origin, religion, sex or gender, age, or disability. Furthermore, an employer cannot fire you in retaliation for opposing an unlawful employment practice (such as unlawful workplace discrimination). And an employer cannot fire you for exercising your rights under other employment laws, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act, or the Fair Labor Standards Act.
So, while at-will employment means an employer doesn’t have to have a good reason, or the right reason, to fire you, it does NOT mean an employer can discriminate.