In the state of Hawaii, the “at-will” working relationship means that employers can terminate employees, or employees can leave their job, for any reason or no reason, and they do not have to provide prior notice.
Evidently, this is what happened to you. The problem involves a stipulation in your employment contract, which could put your employer in violation of the law.
An employer must honor certain exceptions to the at-will relationship rules. One obvious exception is discrimination: an employer cannot fire a worker because of race, religion, sex, age or disability, or for several other discriminatory reasons. Another exception is retaliation. For example, Hawaii uses general whistleblower laws that cover retaliation against an employee who exposes an employer’s illegal activities. In your case, you may have a claim of wrongful termination caused by breach of contract, which is another exception to at-will employment law in our state.
What may have happened
Perhaps the person who fired you did not weigh all the facts properly or simply fell prey to office politics. Perhaps he or she is a new hire who did not investigate your records closely enough. Your employer may also have something to hide. By using the at-will firing process, there would be no risk of you challenging the decision. As it turns out, you had an employment contract with the company. Under state law, the contract obligates the employer to inform you of the reason for termination.
Pursuing a claim
If you believe that your termination was unjust, explore your legal options. By not informing you of the reason for your firing, your employer, if guilty, faces breach of contract consequences. These may include covering your lost wages and legal fees. Your employer will likely pay punitive damages as well, and the court may order your reinstatement, if that is your wish. There is much to consider, and filing a claim of wrongful termination against your employer is the way the process begins.