While people may know that New York is an at-will employment state, meaning employers may terminate workers at any time and for any reason, they may not be aware that there are limits to this rule. If an employer has entered into a written or an implied contract of employment with the employee, the employer will then be limited to its terms.
While relatively few people are employed under a written employment contract, many may be working under an implied employment contract. These can be created through implication when, for example, an employer writes and passes out an employee handbook after the worker has been on the job. By continuing to work there, the employee may thus be able to claim that the conditions outlined in the handbook were an implied contract, and they should keep their employment as long as they have met those conditions.
Implied contracts may also be created verbally when an employer states something to the employee that establishes a condition of employment. An example of this might be when an employer tells the worker that they will remain employed as long as they continue meeting their monthly productivity goals. If the employee has done so and continues to do so, he or she may argue that the statement created a contract and that the terms have been complied with.
It can be disheartening when people are terminated from their job without warning. A person who believes that a written or implied employment contract was created may want to meet with an employment law attorney to find if there is any recourse available. An attorney may review the facts of the client's case to determine whether or not they have grounds for a breach of contract lawsuit.