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At-will employment and the implied-in-fact contract exception


Previously, we began looking at the topic of at-will employment and some of the exceptions to the rule. As we noted, one important exception to the rule is when employers provide special protections to employees by contract.

What rights, obligations do employers have when terminating employees?

Employers need to continually manage and minimize a number of potential liabilities surrounding employees, including illegal discrimination and harassment, workplace safety, disciplinary issues, theft, protection of confidential business information, and so on. One particularly important area where employers need to be informed and cautious about their rights and obligations is termination of the employment relationship.

The general rule in nearly every state when it comes to the employment relationship is that employers may terminate employment at any time for any reason. This is known as the principle of employment "at-will." There are important exceptions to this general rule, though.

Facially Neutral Policies to Protect Against Age Discrimination

Every industry has certain requirements of its employees. You wouldn't hire a baker to do welding, right? So, it would be reasonable for you to exclude bakers from your applicant pool if he or she had no welding experience. However, if you somehow exclude an applicant who is a welder based on his or her age, you could find yourself in trouble. In addition, if a business requirement appears to hinder older workers, but not younger ones, you could find trouble.

Applicants and employees age 40 and above fall into a protected category under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and California's Fair Employment and Housing Act, which provides greater protections for aging employees. Employers are subject to the Fair Employment and Housing Act when they employ 5 or more employees.

How employment contracts can benefit employers

In California, a wide range of employment issues may be addressed through an employment contract between the company and its workers. According to Chron.com, a primary advantage is the identifying of an employee's responsibilities and specific job duties. When details about performance expectations are included, they may be used during evaluations and in situations where raises or promotions may be due. Failure to meet standards may also be listed as grounds to end the contract.

An agreement between the company and the worker may or may not include a predetermined end date, but information about ending employment should be included, regardless. How and when either party can terminate employment, and whether severance pay or extended benefits are due, should be defined in this section. This may prevent litigation in circumstances such as unforeseen layoffs, employee misconduct or other events leading to early or unexpected termination.

Discussing the duties of the executor

The executor of a will is one of the most important elements to anyone's estate plan. Naming an executor does not require you to name a lawyer or a financial expert to fill the role -- but it does require the person who is your estate's executor to uphold their duties as the executor with honesty and integrity. As such, you should think long and hard about who you want to name as your estate's executor.

Once you have your executor, what will this person be responsible for? There are numerous responsibilities the executor must take on and a bevy of tasks they must complete:

Taking a second look at your estate plan

Perhaps the loss of a loved one years ago prompted you to make your own estate plan. Maybe you watched another family struggle and bicker after a parent died without leaving a will, and you vowed that would never happen to your family.

Setting an appointment with an attorney to establish a solid plan for your ultimate future certainly took courage, but you were probably relieved and a little proud of yourself to check it off your to-do list. However, that was years ago. When was the last time you reviewed that plan?

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