Right to Work or Employment at Will?

by Deborah Z Mark

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Since the 1940s, twenty three states (and Guam) have enacted Right to Work laws: Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.

Right to Work

A Right to Work law guarantees that no person can be compelled, as a condition of employment, to join or not to join, or to pay dues to a labor union.  In other words, if an employee works in a Right to Work state, and the employees form a union, the employee may not be fired if he/she decides not to join the union.  Likewise, if an employee is a member of a union in a Right to Work State, and decides to resign from the union, the employee may not be fired for that reason.

Railway and airline employees are not protected by state Right to Work laws.

Employment At Will

Right to Work laws should not be confused with the concept of Employment at Will, which means that employment is voluntary for both employees and employers.

Most private sector workers in Arizona are “at will” employees.  Employment is not covered by a written contract or bargaining agreement, and the employment relationship may be terminated at any time by either the employee or the employer, with or without cause.  Employees can be terminated for any reason not prohibited by law or for no reason, and with or without notice.

In August, 2012, Arizona changed the law to require payment of final wages for involuntary terminations to 7 days instead of the previous requirement of 72 hours.  Be sure to contact managestaff whenever you terminate, or are planning terminations, to guarantee that the employees receive their final wages within the required time.

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