NY Court: 'At-Will' Workers Can Be Fired Anytime

February 14, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Ruling in a case involving five former Dreyfus Corp. money managers who sued when they lost their jobs, a New York state appellate court held that Empire State law allows "at will" workers to be let go for any reason.

A New York Law Journal report said the New York Court of Appeals ruled that the five ex-Dreyfus workers’ claim that the company’s failure to tell them about a merger that ultimately cost them their jobs did not constitute fraudulent inducement. Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, writing for the court, said the court was still bound by a 1983 case that declared that an at-will worker can be let go unless there is “a constitutionally impermissible purpose, a statutory proscription, or an express limitation in the individual contract of employment.”

The case involved former Dreyfus taxable fixed income group employees who said they received repeated assurances between 2001 and 2004 that Dreyfus’ parent company, Mellon Financial Corp., had no plans to merge their group with Mellon’s newly acquired Standish Ayer & Woods, another fund management company. All five said they either joined the group or declined offers of employment at other funds because they were led to believe their jobs would not be merged out of existence.

However, a few months after the taxable fixed income group was merged with Standish Ayer & Woods in late 2004, the Dreyfus managers were fired and the group’s assets transferred to Standish.

The ruling is here .