The legal relationship between employer and employee is governed by employment law. This law governs the rights and responsibilities of both parties. The employer and employee are expected to abide by written policies and rules, which must be enforceable. The termination of an employee who fails to abide by such rules may be considered a breach of contract. Therefore, employers must follow these policies and rules. If the employer or the employee terminates an individual for violating the policies and rules, they are in violation of their contracts.
Although nearly every state presumes that employment relationships are at will, this presumption is often overridden by showing that an employment contract or other binding promise was made between the employer and the employee. Eventually, the law has recognized that the employment relationship is a special type of contract, and courts are willing to overlook this presumption in certain circumstances. In California, the law allows employers to bind their employees, so long as they comply with the rules of the law.
In many countries, a written employment agreement is mandatory. This document, called essentialia negotii (Latin for “essential terms,”) lays out the expectations that the employee will face while working. It also contains information about the job description and compensation. The law protects the employer from liability for any misconduct on the part of the employee, and it helps the employee protect themselves from unfair dismissal.