I saw a family friend over the Christmas Holiday. He is a business owner. He asked what type of law I was practicing these days and I told him about our non-compete / employment litigation practice.

He smiled and said “Those things aren’t really valid – are they? I have all of my employees sign them but I always thought it was a scare tactic. I never thought they could be upheld.”

WOW. I don’t have a poker face and I think he was surprised by my facial response which was some kind of squinting half smile.

He does not live in Virginia but followed up with another employment related question “Is Virginia A “right to work state,” or can you fire someone for any reason?”

WOW AGAIN. I don’t think it is appropriate to make a family friend and generally smart guy feel silly on Jesus’ birthday, so I decided not to preach or lecture on the subject. Rather I said “Yes, Virginia is a “right to work state” but we are also an “At Will” employment state which means you can fire someone for almost any reason.”

NEWSFLASH — RIGHT TO WORK HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH the average employee’s rights. It gives you no protection against being fired. It has nothing to do with notice provisions, etc.

All it means is that you cannot be fired for refusing to pay UNION DUES.

So now the truth is out, even business owners have no idea what the employment laws of their states mean.

Virginia employees, I beg you. In 2010, make it a point to know your rights. Have your employment agreement reviewed so you know what restrictions may exist. Please do not continue to operate on rumors —

Ok, off the soap box now. HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.