At-Will Employment and Exceptions in Georgia

At will employment exceptions in Georgia were created to exclude certain situations from the at-will employment law. Exceptions to at will employment are observed in some states, but not all states in the country. Some employees may wonder, “Is Georgia an at will state?” so they can understand the employment laws observed throughout the state. Employees should also learn what is employment at will to understand what the law states and their rights as employees in Georgia. Employment at-will is a law observed in all states throughout the country that allows employers to terminate their employee relationships at will, for any legal reason. Exceptions to at will employment in Georgia are not observed by the state, so the at-will law stands for all employee-employer relationships. To find out the answers to the questions, “Is Georgia an at will state and what at will exceptions in Georgia are observed?” read through the information below.

Is Georgia an At Will State?

Employees or business owners questioning “What is employment at will?” should learn how Georgia observes the at-will employment law with no exceptions. At will employment in Georgia means that employers can terminate their relationships with employees at any time, for any legal reason. Without GA exceptions to at will employment, employers can terminate employees due to poor work performance, employee misconduct or due to the company’s economic need to reduce staffing. The GA at will employment law also allows employers to change terms of their employment agreements with employees whenever they see fit. Without exceptions to at will employment, employers can:

  • Terminate an employee for any legal reason or for a lack of work.
  • Alter wages and terminate or reduce benefits for employees with no notice.
  • Reduce paid time off and working hours without notice.

Since there are no exceptions to at will employment in Georgia, only legal employment contracts signed by both parties can modify the at-will employment law. Under at will employment, employees also have freedoms of employment, including quitting a job whenever they see fit. No justification or reasoning must be provided when an employee decides to terminate his or her employment with an employer. The at will employment rule also states that no legal consequences can follow the employee if he or she decides to terminate the relationship with the employer. Employment at will has been upheld as a law in the states because most residents, both employers and employees, agree that the freedom to come and go without a legally binding contract is more important than the vulnerability of not having job security. To find out more about what is employment at will in Georgia and the reasons it is implemented throughout the country, download our detailed and free online guide.

At Will Employment Exceptions in Georgia

There are three exceptions to at will employment that many states in the U.S. observe. None of these at will employment exceptions in Georgia are recognized or observed. At will employment is observed in Georgia but the exceptions to the law are not utilized.

The Public-Policy Exception

Exceptions to at will employment include the public policy exception. This at will employment exception states that if an employee is terminated and the termination violates a public policy observed in the state, then it is illegal or wrongful termination. These specific exceptions to at will employment in Georgia are not observed, so it is understood that an employer will terminate employees reasonably and for just cause. While this is one of the most widely accepted exceptions to at will employment in the country and is recognized in a majority of states, Georgia does not observe this exception.

The Implied-Contract Exception

Exceptions to at will employment observed in some states also include the implied contract exception. This exception to at will employment states that even if a contract is not in writing, if it is verbally expressed in some way and agreed upon by both parties, it should be observed by an employer. An example of this at will exception is if an employer hires an employee and promises him or her a specific salary, bonus or a length of employment with job security. With the implied contract exception, it is expected that the employer will follow through with his or her promises, even though a written contract was not signed by both parties.

The Covenant-of-Good-Faith Exception

Out of all three at will employment exceptions, the covenant of good faith exception is observed by the fewest states in the country. Since no exceptions to at will employment in Georgia are observed, employers and employees do not need to adhere to the covenant of good faith at will exception. This at will exception states that an employee termination must only be made due to a good and legal reason and cannot be made with malice or ill intent. The covenant of good faith exception is also referred to as the exception for a covenant of good faith and fair dealing and emphasizes that the reasons for firing employees must be rational and acceptable or the terminations are prohibited. To find out more about at will employment exceptions in Georgia, download our informative online guide.