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A few months back a family member was terminated without cause at a company that has dental clinics in Illinois.

However, the contract had stated she had to provide 60 day notice.

There was no mention of what penalty she would face if she was unable to provide the notice.

When she reminded them of the contract and that they were not providing any notice, they simply shrugged.

During Covid-19 they terminated all the dental assistants with very little notice - even though the assistants had a similar long notice period requirement.

It is unfair that they can fire at will but employees are bound by long notice periods.

Are such one-sided contracts allowed?

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    Did the contract say that the employer had to provide 60 day notice or the employee? I have never seen a contract requiring the employer to provide any notice for termination and I doubt any employer would be foolish enough to put in such a provision.
    – sf02
    Mar 29, 2023 at 14:37
  • @JoeStrazzere "they" refers to the dental assistants.
    – likejudo
    Mar 29, 2023 at 15:51
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    @sf02 the employee has to provide 60 days notice. But the point is that this is one-sided.
    – likejudo
    Mar 29, 2023 at 20:12
  • In the news: today either WWE or McMahon may terminate his employment, and this agreement, with or without cause or reason, at any time. However, if McMahon intends to terminate his employment, he shall provide WWE with at least 60 days advance written notice.” Mar 31, 2023 at 23:51

2 Answers 2

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Whether such contracts are allowed is a legal question that would depend on the jurisdiction. In the US (which I'm guessing you're using based on your profile), it is legal to have asymmetric notice obligations. My understanding is that is most Western European nations there is an obligation for notice periods to be symmetrical. But there are a lot of countries in Western Europe and each one likely has different caveats to that rule.

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    in Germany, it is legal for the employer to have longer notice period than the the employee. The reverse is not legal: the employee may not have longer notice period than the employer. Which means in practice it is almost always symmetrical (because why would the employer give himself the short end of the stick?)
    – Benjamin
    Mar 29, 2023 at 14:54
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    @Benjamin I think you meant the opposite "why would the employer give himself the long end of the stick" :)
    – likejudo
    Mar 29, 2023 at 15:52
  • In the common form of the idiom, the short-end is the worse end dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/… Mar 29, 2023 at 15:58
  • @Benjamin The employer would give themselves the short end of the notice stick if the employee gave something of greater value in exchange such as a lower salary or perhaps even taking the job in the first place. Mar 29, 2023 at 17:51
  • @DavidSchwartz yes, it happens, but it is rare.
    – Benjamin
    Mar 29, 2023 at 18:22
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It is unfair that they can fire at will but employees are bound by long notice periods.

Are such one-sided contracts allowed?

Actual employment contracts are unusual in the US. And though rare, this sort of contract is allowed. Even so, such a long notice period is seldom enforced in practice.

Of course, potential employees are free to reject such a contract and find an employer with a more agreeable contract, or no contract at all.

Two weeks notice is far more typical. And in most cases even that is just considered a courtesy, absent a contract.

For those that aren't familiar, at-will means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason at all without incurring legal liability. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.

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  • In the health care industry, 60 day notice periods, 90 day notice periods are normal. This is in order to transition patient care.
    – likejudo
    Mar 29, 2023 at 15:54
  • Didn't your wife have to sign a document before she could start work? Well, my wife got an employment offer this week and in the document she has to sign, the new company requires a 90 day notice. Their lawyers said it cannot be reduced.
    – likejudo
    Mar 30, 2023 at 0:26
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    @likejudo It can, they simply chose not to. Mar 30, 2023 at 6:14
  • It happens all the time that notices are not given. If someone died, their employment ends right there. No lawyer can bring someone back from the dead. It sounds ridiculous but just think about it a bit. The contract means nothing in this case. All sorts of things can happen: leaving the country, being arrested, goes missing, other serious medical issues, etc.
    – Nelson
    Apr 6, 2023 at 2:56

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