MONTANA – THE ONLY STATE IN THE UNION WHERE AT-WILL EMPLOYMENT LAWS DO NOT APPLY
What does it mean for Montana not to be an at-will state?
Montana is one of the only states whose law allows for employees to have an extra-layer of protection. In other states employers can fire an un-contracted at-will employee at any time and for any legal reason. In Montana work at-will laws only apply during a probation period that is a standard six months unless otherwise established at the time of employment. Upon conclusion of the probationary period Montana employers must have valid cause in order to terminate one’s employment.
At-will also allows for employers to adjust the terms of employment with employees at any time for any reason without legal consequences. The employer may alter benefits, reduce time-off or change wage arrangements without consent of the employee.
As previously stated, however, Montana is not an at-will state.
What act protects employees from wrongful termination?
Passed in 1987 the Montana Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act “…sets forth certain rights and remedies with respect to wrongful discharge.”
The act declares a discharge is wrongful only if:
1. It was in retaliation for the employee’s refusal to violate public policy or for reporting a violation of public policy;
2. The discharge was not for good cause and the employee had completed the employer’s probationary period of employment; or
3. The employer violated the express provisions of its own written personnel policy.
An employee’s failure to adequately perform the task for which they were employed, an employee’s negligence to working lawfully, the employer’s company being dissolved or the interruption of business for any other reason are all lawful excuses for firing an employee.
If you are a contracted employee, both the employer and the employee must be followed the contract terms even throughout the termination of the employee. If the employee is entitled to certain procedures and opportunities prior to being let go those obligations, by law, must be fulfilled.
If you feel like you have been wrongfully terminated you should contact an attorney with employment law experience post haste. The time to file a claim on such measures is short and should be used wisely.