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Why Businesses Should Not Rely on "At-Will" Employment When Making Employment Decisions

Nov 10, 2023

Businesses should not rely on at will employment for making decisions regarding employees. "At Will" probably doesn't mean what you might think it does.

Here is the example:  An employer terminated an employee for showing up to work late. This is a clear violation of company policy, but the company still got sued. What went wrong?

There are many things that can be alleged as “wrongful” when an employee is terminated.

Here are some examples of common allegations by employees:

  1. The policy was only enforced as to [X Protective Class] and not enforced as to all employees. - this is a potential discrimination claim
  2. I was late to work because my medication makes me drowsy - this is a potential ADA Claim
  3. My manager does not allow me to clock in until I prep my area, which is why it looks like I am arriving late - this is a potential FLSA claim.

A lot of times, a company is unknowingly making these decisions without all the information it needs or should have.

 How can companies defend against these issues? Make sure to have proper documentation which will negate the above allegations, if made. This is also why it is best to have written warnings and counseling sessions with employees who are violating company policy, rather than rush to an immediate termination for a first time offender. The company needs time to gather the facts and determine the reason for the violation and to ensure the late arrival really isn’t due to something else that could expose the company to liability. The company can also consult with an employment lawyer in its state for assistance and guidance with its employee issues and to help ensure compliance with the law.


Karly Wannos, Esq., of the Wannos Law Firm, PA is an employment attorney in Florida. She helps companies comply with the employment laws through legal guidance, customized workshops and trainings and preparation of legal documents and employee handbooks.

Connect with Karly Wannos at The Wannos Law Firm, Instagram and Linkedin and on The Employment Experience Podcast.



 1. Legal Advice - Employment Law

The Wannos Law Firm, PA provides employment counseling and legal advice to clients in Florida. Please contact the firm for additional information on how we can help with you or your client's employment needs. Schedule a consultation.

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The Wannos Law Firm, PA provides prompt, independent and efficient workplace investigations in response to employee complaints of harassment, discrimination, retaliation and serious policy violations. Schedule a call to discuss how we can help.

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