At-Will v. Right to Work

Hello everyone. Paul Simon here with law firm of Simon Paschal. Today we’re going to do a quick little video discussing the difference between the term at-will employment and right to work. As an employment lawyer, these are the two terms I hear all the time. Most of us, I think, have heard the terms but often they are misunderstood and misused.

What at-will means, and Texas is an at-will state, is that both the employer and the employee have the right to leave the employment at any time for any reason. So if I’m working for someone and I decided to take another job or simply I don’t want to work there anymore, I can simply just quit. And the same thing as with the employer, if I no longer want to employ that person for whatever the reason may be, I can simply just fire them.

Now the difference with that is there is a term employment and that’s where you’ll see someone has an employment contract that says you are going to work for me for three years and the only way you can leave or under these circumstances, absent that, I’ve got to employ you for three years and you have to work for me for three years. But generally in Texas you’re going to see that most of us have an at-will employment contract.

Now the next term is right to work. A lot of times people use this with the non-competes that non-competes in Texas aren’t valid because it’s a right to work state. That’s just simply false. That’s not what right to work means. What right to work refers to is in the labor context that if the right to work state, that a labor union can’t force you to be part of their union. And where you see this is traditionally in states like Michigan, which is actually now a right to work state, but it used to require that you join a union and if you didn’t join a union, you basically had to pay a penalty that was more than it would’ve cost to join the union. So it was a very strong incentive for workers to have to join a union. So right to work just refers to whether or not you are forced to join a union and if there’s a penalty involved. So it has nothing to do with non-competes. It has nothing to do whether or not a company has to employ you because you have a right to work for them. it’s just a union.

So there’s your tip for the day. Tune in next week and hopefully you’ll learn something. Thanks guys.


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