In Massachusetts, a basic rule exists that all employment relationships are “at will.” In an “at will” employment relationship, either the employer or the employee may terminate the relationship whenever they choose.
There is no requirement that an employer give notice to the employee that they are being fired. However, there is also no requirement that an employee give notice that they are quitting. A two-week notice is generally considered to be a courtesy but not a legal requirement.
There are exceptions to this general policy. The “at will” doctrine is a default rule for employment practices and gives way to any binding agreements by the parties. Employers and employees are free to dictate the terms of employment through an employment contract.
Courts in Massachusetts have been willing to find that employee handbooks are similar to contracts. It is important, then, to make sure that your employee handbook clearly designates that employment remains “at will. “
Another limitation to the “at will” doctrine includes terminations that violate public policy. This prevents employers from terminating the employment of “at will” employees for any reason, even if there is no contract between the parties.