At-will employment

To the editor:

Iowa, along with many other states, are governed by “At-Will Employment” laws. These laws basically mean that an employer can fire/terminate an employee for any or no reason whatsoever.

Does an employer need a reason to fire me?

Does an employer need a reason to demote me?

Is an employer required to warn me before firing me?

Can an employer fire me for something I did not do?

Answer: If you are an at-will employee, you can be fired or demoted on a whim, without warning, for no reason at all, or even for a false reason.

I did not know this until I was terminated from a job I had held for 15+ years. I see now why unions were formed. The union employees cannot be fired for “no reason” since they actually have a contract that they work under.

The laws do, however, protect certain types or groups. “So how can you ever sue for wrongful termination?,” you ask. Because the law also states that while you can be fired for no reason, you cannot be fired for a reason that violates public policy. The most obvious example of this is discrimination. An employer cannot fire an employee because of his or her race, gender, age, nationality, etc. And there are many other public policies. An employee can’t be fired for serving on jury duty, or voting, or for trying to form a union, or for taking a leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, or for filing a Workers Compensation claim. The list goes on and on.

So, in other words, an employer can fire a person for age, race, etc. as long as the employer does not state those factors as the reason for the termination.

Am I the only one that sees fault in these types of laws? Am I the only one that would like this changed? It may not be impossible, but it is highly improbable, that I will (at my age) ever find a job with the salary and benefits of the job that was taken from me. I am sure the group that decided my fate have no feeling about me or my situation, but hopefully what comes around, goes around.

Rich Vratny

Fort Dodge