Exceptions to At-Will Employment | Bantle & Levy



Exceptions to At-Will Employment

Like many employees across the country, you are likely an at-will employee. New York is one of the many states with at-will employment, but you might be wondering what your rights are if you’re an at-will employee. While it might seem like there’s nothing you can do if you believe you’ve been wrongfully terminated as an at-will employee, this isn’t true in every case. Just because you’re an at-will employee doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when your employer is breaking the law by terminating you.

At Bantle & Levy, we can help protect your employee rights and get you justice if you’ve been wrongfully terminated. Learn more about the exceptions to at-will employment.

What Does At-Will Employment Mean?

First, it’s important to understand what exactly at-will employment entails. At-will employment means that your employer can terminate you at any time, for any reason, as long as it isn’t an illegal reason. An at-will employee also has the right to leave their job at any time for any reason.

How Can Employees Be Wrongfully Terminated in New York?

There are several occasions where employees in at-will employment states can be wrongfully terminated.


Discrimination is illegal in every aspect of employment, including terminations. Even if your employment is at-will, your employer still doesn’t have the right to discriminate against you based on your membership in a protected class.


Employees who engage in protected activity, such as reporting discrimination, are protected from retaliation. However, in some cases, an employee may be wrongfully terminated for their participation in protected activity. At-will employees are still protected from retaliation, so if you engaged in protected activity and were terminated after, you may still have a claim.

Company Policy

Although New York is an at-will state, some employers may have their own guidelines regarding terminations. Some employers may have policies in place that state what an employee can and cannot be terminated for. If an employer has policies that require employees can only be terminated with cause, firing an employee without cause would violate their own policy and the employee’s rights.

Employment Contracts

Similar to company policies, some employees may have independent contracts that protect them from being fired without cause. In addition to official contracts, New York state recognizes implied contracts. Terminating an employee without cause could be a breach of their contract and a wrongful termination.

Collective Bargaining Agreements

Employees who belong to a union may also be protected from being fired without cause in at-will states. If an employer belongs to a union with a collective bargaining agreement that states they can only be terminated with cause, they may have a wrongful termination claim.

Get Help If You’ve Been Wrongfully Terminated

Losing your job can make it feel like your whole life has been turned upside down. Don’t assume that just because New York is an at-will employment state that there’s nothing you can do about your termination. It is still possible to be wrongfully terminated even in an at-will employment state, and if this has happened to you, you deserve to get justice. At Bantle & Levy, we have years of experience standing up for employees and protecting their rights.

If you believe you’ve been wrongfully terminated from your job, contact us today for help.

Bantle & Levy
Bantle & Levy

Lee Bantle is a partner at Bantle & Levy LLP. He has extensive legal expertise, admitted to the bars of the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals. With a distinguished academic background and clerkship experience, he has been recognized as a top-rated civil rights attorney and esteemed lawyer. In addition to his successful career, he has actively contributed to various legal organizations and serves as a faculty member for NYU's Annual Workshop on Employment Law for Federal Judges.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Contact Information

99 Park Avenue, Suite 1510
New York, 10016
(On Park Avenue between 39th Street and 40th Street)