Employment Law Alert – June 2016
NO ADVANCE NOTICE REQUIRED TO TERMINATE AT-WILL EMPLOYEE
Most employers are aware that, under the at-will employment doctrine, either the employer or the employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time with or without cause. Traditional definitions of at-will employment in Virginia have added that “reasonable notice” of the intent to end the relationship is required. So, for years, employers in Virginia have been left to ponder, “What is reasonable notice?” The Virginia Supreme Court answered that question in its recent decision in the case of Brenda Johnson v. William E. Wood & Associates, Inc.
In that case, Brenda Johnson was fired by William E. Wood & Associates, Inc. after 17 years of employment. Ms. Johnson, an admittedly at-will employee, sued her employer for wrongful termination and breach of an implied term of her employment contract because her employer failed to provide advance notice of her termination. After reaffirming that the “at-will doctrine constitutes a cornerstone of [Virginia’s] employment law,” the Virginia Supreme Court rejected Ms. Johnson’s argument that advance notice is required to terminate employment. Instead, the Court held that “reasonable notice” simply means effective notice that the employment relationship has ended.
So, the Virginia Supreme Court has confirmed what the K&C Employment Law team has been advising employers for years – employers in Virginia can terminate employees and make their terminations effective immediately, so long as they are clear that the employment relationship is over.
At Kaufman & Canoles, we are dedicated to keeping our clients informed of important legal changes like these. Join us at our 32nd Annual Employment Law Update on July 21, 2016, at the Hampton Roads Convention Center where this and other developments in employment law, including the new DOL overtime regulations and the EEOC’s electronic charge handling system, will be discussed. To register or for more information, click here. In addition, members of our Labor & Employment Team are readily available to assist you with any immediate needs you might have regarding employment law.
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