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Right to Work and At Will Employment

right to work and at will employment

Right to Work and At Will Employment

Right to Work

Two terms that are commonly confused with each other are Right to Work and At Will Employment. Nurses are heard to say “They don’t need a reason to fire you in Arizona (for example) because it’s a Right to Work state”.

Many nurses believe that living in a Right to Work state (approximately 28 states) means they can be fired for no reason. That is not the basis for Right to Work legislation.Right to work and at will employment

Right to Work guarantees that you do not have to join a union in order to work for a hospital that has a  union. It means you have the right to choose whether or to join the union. If you do not join the union, you cannot be required to pay membership dues.

Likewise, if you already belong to a union and then decide to quit the union, you cannot be fired for that reason under Right to Work.

Opponents of Right to Work argue that all nurses should be required to join, as they all enjoy the benefits of unionization and are getting a free ride.



At Will Employment

Right to Work is often confused with At Will Employment.  At Will employment means the employer or the employee can terminate the relationship without cause, meaning the employment is voluntary for both employer and employee. Employees who work without a contract are subject to being terminated without warning. Almost all states are At Will Employment.

Even though hospitals can terminate nurses without warning, they cannot terminate nurses for illegal reasons such as age, gender, disability or nationality. Hospitals must follow their own written policies regarding discipline and termination in order to be fair to all employees. Therefore most employees receive warnings and progressive discipline before they are terminated.


Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

Author “Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job..and your next!” 

Come visit me at Ask Nurse Beth  career column at for all kinds of  entertaining and informative career questions and answers, and to submit your own question :) 


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About Beth Hawkes (146 Articles)
Nice to meet you! I'm a Nursing Professional Development Specialist in acute care, a writer, speaker and career columnist.

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