The employment relationship is, by its very nature, a
contractual one. Even in the absence of a written contract between
the employer and the employee, both are still bound by an oral agreement
for at-will employment. Courts in most states, however, have carved
out exceptions to the at-will doctrine.
For instance, courts have held that, under certain circumstances,
offer letters, personnel policies, and other statements by employers
can create implied contracts that alter the at-will nature of the
employment relationship. In addition, where employees are represented
by a union, the employment relationship is governed by a collective
When an employer does choose to enter into a formal contract
with an employee, there are certain provisions that should be included
to protect the employer's interests and ensure its enforceability.