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April 20, 2011

Employment at will

Employment at will
DiLacio v New York City District Council of United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of Am., 2011 NY Slip Op 00175, Appellate Division, Second Department

In this action George DiLacio, Jr. sued the District Council in an effort to recover damages for alleged wrongful termination of employment and defamation.

The Appellate Division ruled that both complaints should have been dismissed.

With respect to DiLacio allegations concerning “wrongful termination,” the court pointed out that he had served as “an employee at will.” Citing Murphy v American Home Prods. Corp., 58 NY2d 293, the Appellate Division ruled that DiLacio’s allegation that the District Council had violated their duty to terminate his employment "only in good faith and with fair dealing" failed to state a recognized cause of action under New York law.

Under New York law, "absent a constitutionally impermissible purpose, a statutory proscription, or an express limitation in the individual contract of employment, an employer's right at any time to terminate an employment at will remains unimpaired."

Unless the individual has a statutory or contractual right to a pre-termination hearing he or she may be terminated at any time so long as the termination is not otherwise unlawful under State or federal law.

As to DiLacio’s defamation claim, the court said that although the termination letter containing the phrase "severe dereliction of duty," it had not been published to anyone other than DiLacio himself.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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