1.  Right to work and employment at will are two of the most commonly misunderstood employment terms. They are often used interchangeably; however they are vastly different. Many times, people think that a company has to consider them for a position because they live in a right to work state. Or, they believe an employment at will state provides them protection from termination. Let’s take a look at each of these phrases and what they actually mean.

    Right to work law-This is legislation which allows a person to work at any place of employment without being forced to join a specific union as a condition of employment.  In a right to work state, you cannot be forced to join a union in order to obtain or keep a position. In states without right to work laws, the opposite is true. A company can mandate union membership either as a condition for being considered for employment, or require you to join the union once hired.

    Employment at will law-This is a little more complex than the right to work law. The theory behind the employment at will is fairly straightforward.  The basic definition means that, in the absence of a written employment contract, either the employer or the employee may choose to sever the working relationship at any time, and for any reason provided they are not violating state or federal law. For example, under the at will provision, an employer may terminate an employee for tardiness, but not because of their race, as that would violate federal law. With that being said, it gets a little more complicated as almost every at will state has exceptions.  To learn how the law works in your state, contact your state labor department.

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