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Employment-At-Will v. Right-To-Work

I've noticed over the years that non-lawyers often confuse the concepts of right-to-work and employment-at-will. Because they are foundational concepts, it's important to understand the difference. Employment-at-will is the general rule throughout the overwhelming majority of the United States. It's the law in Texas. Employment-at-will means that, absent a contract to the contrary, an employer may discharge an employee for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all, so long as it's not an illegal reason. The list of illegal reasons is relatively short. Employment-at-will also means the employee, absent a contract to the contrary, can resign at any time and needn't have a good reason nor provide notice. Of course, providing notice is generally the professional thing to do. To say one lives in a right-to-work state means that, generally, in that state workers can't be forced to join or contribute to a labor union as a condition to working for a company. The number of states that are right-to-work states are pretty closely evenly split with those states that are not. Texas is a right-to-work state. You can see then that the doctrine of employment-at-will and the doctrine of right-to-work are very different. Another way to look at it is that employment-at-will protects the employer, and right-to-work protects the employee. Knowing the difference may be the key to understanding where you stand with your employer some day. GSF

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