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What does it take to alter an at-will employment contract?

Los Angeles, CA |

I turned in 2 weeks' notice at my job, but my boss was so angry that I was leaving, he created a hostile environment. I decided to quit 2 days after giving my notice rather than waiting the full 2 weeks.

Now he is threatening to sue, indicating that I changed the at-will terms by giving notice. I believe this is nonsensical, but he got a lawyer to send me a threatening letter.

Attorney Answers 6


  1. Best answer

    It is utter nonsense. The attorney letter is a bluff.

    There is case law out there that says an employment agreement that is stated to be at will can be transformed into a term agreement in part if the agreement has a notice provision. That law basically says that if you are terminated by the employer, you are entitled to either work the stated notice provision or be paid for it if not allowed to work it. This employer is trying to intimidate you by standing that law on its head.

    The communications your are receiving right now are no doubt motivated by anger. Let the anger pass and you should be fine. If not, and if this employer actually does something crazy and sues you, you will need to get an attorney to assist you in getting rid of the bogus lawsuit.

    Good luck to you.

    This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.


  2. If you were not under a contract with a specified term, your employment would be at-will and you can leave anytime you want. If that is the case and your boss is threatening to sue, he is an idiot.


  3. Just as an employer has the right to discharge an at-will employee at any time, for any reason not prohibited by law, an employee also has the right to quit at any time, for any reason, and is not required to provide notice unless there are restrictions in an employment contract. Without reading your contract it is not possible to offer a legal opinion as to any rights or obligations. But it would be interesting to know what this lawyer is threatening you with.

    It may be worth your piece of mind to have an attorney review the contract and letter, to make sure you are okay and, if necessary, put the threatening lawyer in his or her place.

    They say you get what you pay for, and this response is free, so take it for what it is worth. This is my opinion based on very limited information. My opinion should not be taken as legal advice. For true advice, we would require a confidential consultation where I would ask you questions and get your complete story. This is a public forum, so remember, nothing here is confidential. Nor am I your attorney. I do not know who you are and you have not hired me to provide any legal service. To do so would require us to meet and sign written retainer agreement. My responses are intended for general information only.


  4. Unless your contract required you to provide two week's notice, the threat of legal action is completely baseless.

    This answer is a general interpretation of the law and is not fact specific to your case. Likewise it does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should seek an attorney for a review of your specific facts and documents.


  5. I tend to agree with everyone else here but it can't hurt to take the letter to an attorney just to be sure that there is no employment contract or other circumstances not described in the question that could effect your position.

    Good luck!!

    DISCLAIMER: The information above is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship nor is it a guarantee of any particular outcome regarding your issue. The law is complicated and an attorney cannot properly advise you without knowing all of the relevant facts surrounding your situation.


  6. I agree with the answers already provided. Only a contract could alter an employment relationship in CA that is by default "at will." If you have not entered into a contractual relationship to change the "at will" employment relationship, then it appears your former employer's threat of suit is without merit. However, in order to ensure that there is no potential exposure or liability, you should definitely consult with an employment attorney and provide all facts and documents that are pertinent to your matter for a comprehensive review. There are plenty of employment firms that are willing to provide free consultations.

    The information provided are for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as legal advice and cannot be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. Seek a licensed attorney as soon as possible for legal advice in your matter.

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