At-will employment essentially means that you have no guarantee that your job will last. You can be terminated at any time. This also gives you the freedom to quit at any time without legal repercussions. Employees do not need to have a reason to leave, and employers do not need to have a reason to fire them.
Some people assume that this means a wrongful termination is impossible. If the employer can just decide to fire the employee for any reason, doesn’t that mean they cannot violate the employee’s rights?
Don’t buy into this myth. It is possible for wrongful termination to happen, even if you are an at-will employee.
The role of protected classes in employment
What you need to remember is that all employees are protected from termination based on certain classes. These classes include things like race, religion, age, or disability. If you are fired for one of these reasons, it doesn’t matter that you’re an at-will employee. That firing is still illegal.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s definitely a wrongful termination just because you’re in one of these classes. If your employer still has a valid reason to fire you, they can do so, as long as your protected class isn’t the reason itself.
However, if you are in one of these classes and you lose your job under somewhat suspicious circumstances, it may be worth looking into the legal options that you have. Never assume that you just have to accept the firing because you are under at-will employment laws at the time.