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Pennsylvania - Can't quit without fulfilling notice period

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  • Pennsylvania - Can't quit without fulfilling notice period

    Hi All,

    I'm in Pennsylvania and am leaving a full-time position to start another immediately. I have never in my life quit a job and just walked out, but due to unethical business decisions being made by the company, that's what I've decided to do.

    I put notice in writing that I was resigning effective immediately. I received a message back saying that I couldn't leave like that because my employment agreement states the following:

    "Your employment with the Company will be at will. This means that you or the Company may terminate your employment relationship at any time, with or without cause. If you terminate your employment with the Company, you must provide four (4) weeks' notice to the Company in writing, and provide adequate help and support in hiring and training your replacement and transitioning your responsibilities. If the Company terminates your employment, the Company will provide four (4) weeks' notice to you in writing, to provide you with sufficient time to seek employment elsewhere."

    Am I obligated to work the 4 weeks, or do Pennsylvania at will employment laws cover me? Not sure if I'll be in breach of contract if I just walk out.

    Thank you!

  • #2
    It's going to depend on whether your agreement rises to the level of a contract. I will say that statement they sent you contradicts itself. The whole point of "employment at will" is that you can quit at any time with or without notice, not employment at will plus 4 weeks. It is possible that if you do not give 4 weeks notice even if it is not a contract, there might be consequences (such as losing earned PTO, getting a 'no rehire' flag, etc).

    You really need to go back and re-read the employment agreement and probably run it by a local employment attorney to see if it rises to the level of a contract and what it states in there as to your "employment at will".


    • #3
      If you are "at-will" either party can terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without notice. The requirement for both parties to give 4 weeks notice is the opposite of that and would imply a contractual relationship. To be absolutely certain, I would take the letter you have to an attorney for review. Chances are, it is not an actual contract, especially if no consideration is made for compliance. If it is merely recommended that you give notice, you may still quit, but you do burn bridges.

      Note that even with at will employment there can be negative repercussions if you do not give proper notice. Your employer does not have to give you a positive reference in the future and may elect not to pay out certain accrued leave balances (note that the payout of vacation unconditionally if subject to state law and if your state requires it be paid, it must be), or make you ineligible for rehire. There are times, leaving immediately is your best course of action, but do be aware that it is not risk free.
      I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


      • #4
        I understand the consequences, but I've only had this job for 8 weeks and it became immediately apparent to me that I was not going to stay. I'll never reference this position and I have other professional references who will back me up.

        Thank you


        • #5
          Just be aware that you don't have to give permission for a prospective employer to call them for a reference, for them to do so.
          The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


          • #6
            Who in the world would want to force a disgruntled employee of 8 weeks to stay a month after they say they are leaving immediately?

            In any case, it sounds like they have no leverage over you, and their threats are empty. It's highly questionable that anything in that agreement could be enforceable since the paragraph quoted contradicts itself. You haven't been there long enough to accrue PTO or any of that, and you don't plan to list the job on your future resume, so I don't see what they could possibly do to stop you. I'd be very tempted to reply to the email with two little words. "Sue me."


            • #7
              Even if this agreement would be a contract (seems doubtful), I don't know what consequences the employer could take for only being there 8 weeks except to give a negative reference to a prospective employer. Based on what you posted, the agreement doesn't mention any consequences for not giving notice. It seems you already have another position/job to go to.
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