I signed my offer of employment today. I’d love to say contract, but apparently such a thing is alien to the population of New York state, and to most Americans in general. Here’s the specific clause in the letter that caused a brief cardiac incident when I read it:
While I have every expectation that you will continue to have a successful career with us, I must remind you that your employment with The Company is on an “at will” basis, which means that either of us may choose to terminate your employment at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice and without compensation except for time worked. Accordingly, nothing in this offer letter should be construed as creating a contract of employment, or employment for a specified term.
This is simply an explanation of at-will employment, the provision in American law that ensures that everyone is in constant fear for their job, and therefore wonderfully productive.
On the plus side, I’m somewhat protected from this if I’m part of a company-recognized union (I’m not) and I can’t be immediately fired for illegal reasons (the burden of proof being mine.) There’s also the comfort that in 43 states and D.C. it would be illegal to fire me for a breach of public policy such as ‘informing the authorities of an illegal activity’, which is socialism gone mad and only a short step from outright communism. Fortunately New York has no such liberal exceptions.
Guess I better stop referring to my HR department as incompetent then. When the new job starts on May 2nd.