Pop Quiz

Virginia IS a “Right to Work State:”

(1) Yes. I saw a poster in our break room.
(2) Yes. I heard something about this years ago.
(3) No. In Virginia employees have no rights.

Right to Work means the following:

(1) My employer cannot fire me without cause.
(2) My employer can’t prevent me from working after I leave
(3) I cannot be forced to join a union and pay union dues if I don’t want to

Want to know how you did?

The Answer to 1 is:

1 or 2. Virginia is a right to work state.

So what does that mean? (3) It means you cannot be forced to join a union and pay dues.

Yup. I mean it. You don’t actually have a right to work. You can be fired for any reason. In fact, all of the following reasons are legal reasons to fire an at will (not contract employee) in Virginia:

1. Times are hard
2. They don’t like your hair cut
3. You refuse to work on Saturdays
4. You refuse to sign a non-compete
5. They don’t like Hokie fans and you went to Tech

Get my point? “Right to work” Doesn’t actually protect you during your employment, or after.

This means that your non-compete IS VALID until a Virginia Judge says otherwise.

So please, don’t let the rumor mill influence your professional decisions. Don’t sign a non-compete until you know what it means.

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