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Employment Law

At-Will Employment

LegalSpeak: Rooney v. Tyson (N.Y. 1998)

Asensible path to declare New York law starts with these two steps: (1) if the duration is definite, the at-will doctrine is inapplicable, on the other hand, (2) if the employment term is indefinite or undefined, the rebuttable at-will presumption is operative and other factors come into the equation….

When an agreement is silent as to duration, however, it is presumptively at-will, absent an express or implied limitation on an employer’s otherwise unfettered ability to discharge an employee. Only when we discern no term of some definiteness or no express limitation does the analysis switch over to the rebuttable presumption line of cases. They embody the principle that an employment relationship is terminable upon even the whim of either the employer or the employee. The agreement in this case is not silent and manifestly provides a sufficiently limiting framework….

The range of the employment relationship, concededly created and actualized for several years in the framework of this Federal dispute, is established by the definable commencement and conclusion of Tyson’s professional boxing career. Though the times are not precisely predictable and calculable to dates certain, they are legally and experientially limited and ascertainable by objective benchmarks.



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