At-Will Employment May Be Unintentionally Altered by Written Agreements

The University of Maryland, College Park, negotiated a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the Union representing its employees. The CBA provides guidelines and time limits for discipline of employees but specifically states the time limits do not apply to the University’s Notice Termination Policy. As an at-will employment state, Maryland allows the employer or employee to terminate employment at any time. The University followed the CBA’s guidelines for disciplining an employee who was terminated in accordance with the Notice Termination policy three months later. The employee filed suit against the University claiming the CBA and University policy could not co-exist. While the Maryland Court of Appeals found no conflict between the CBA and the University’s Notice Termination policy, the case serves as a reminder to employers in at-will employment states that written agreements and policies can unintentionally alter an employee’s at-will status. Read more about the case here.