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How does an employment contract affect termination at will?

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An employer-employee relationship is amongst the most important in an individual’s life. A strong relationship can provide stability, peace of mind, and the opportunity for advancement and increased financial compensation. A poor employer-employee relationship, on the other hand, can leave a worker stressed and concerned for his future. Therefore, it is critical, when possible, to fully define the relationship via an employment contract.

Why is an employment contract so important? It is critical because Florida recognizes termination at will, whereby an employer can fire an employee at any time. An employment contract can preempt this termination at will, specifically spelling out how an employee will be evaluated, how long he or she will be employed, and reasons for which termination will be justified. But what if an employer will not agree to an employment contract?

Even without a written and signed document, a contract may still exist. An implied contract may exist, for example, when an employee is given an employee handbook and he or she continues to work under the assumption that he or she is subjected to the contents of the handbook. A verbal statement may also be found to create a contract when that statement spells out certain terms of employment, including the length of the employment. It is worth noting, though, that verbal contracts are difficult to enforce, and they must be specific in nature to have a shot at enforcing.
When an employment dispute arises, the existence or nonexistence of an employment contract can become pivotal. If a contract is in place and an employee is fired in contradiction to the agreement, then legal action may be warranted. Thus, those who have questions about their employment situation and whether or not they have been legally wronged by their termination or have been treated unfairly under the terms of their contract may want to speak with a legal professional.

Tags: Employment Contracts
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