Thursday, February 02, 2006

At will employees

A comment from the


My understanding is that we will receive two letters - one terminating our employment effective May 31 and another new offer letter, effective June 1.

I've heard that the offer letter will emphasize two points - one, we are at will employees but more importantly, THAT ALL EMPLOYEES OF THE NEW LLC WILL BE ON A ONE YEAR PROBATIONARY PERIOD - read - we can rid this place of you "problem" employees without any advance notice, and of course, since you are all new employees, there is no severance pay provision. Has anyone else heard about this?

At-will employment (see, for example, is subject to litigation, as is most everything else in the present circumstances. I smell a black-hole frenzy of legal devouring on the horizon. Hopefully, the UCRP funds will escape intact.
At will employment is very hard to litigate against in New Mexico courts.

I too heard a similar twist of the new employment situation.
I think that both items were brought up early on in the bid cycle when the original RFP was brought up. [People should look at some comments on the site from back then.] The second point (1 year probation) was pretty clear to me when reading the later RFP's.

Basically, EVERYONE will be new employees at LANS, and ANYONE can be let go if they do not perform to their managers expectations.

[The words above are capitalized, because they arent really true. There are always certain people who could drop their pants on the CEO's desk and poop on his papers and still get a paycheck 2 months later... but that is the nature of this poor twisted universe.]

One can litigate anything, and sometimes win, but I doubt very much it can be won in New Mexico due to state laws and court precedence.
"At will" employment is trumped by a Policy Manual that has specific procedures for termination such as the "Performance Action Track" and greviance process. The existence of a Policy Manual effects an "Employment Contract."

So, they can't just fine you because you look like the south end of a north-facing horse.
Litigation trumps everything, even "rock solid" prenuptial agreements. It's *never* over till a caseload of lawyers sings.
Unfortunately, badbard1, that policy manual is UC's and will expire May 30. The LANS LLC personnel policies will be whatever they say they are - UC precedences be damned.
This question was asked to Mr. Brooks at the talk last week at LLNL. If you watch the presentation you will see that NNSA says that, "they have no clue of what UC is trying to pull" and are investigating the issues that you are all concerned about. I have given the URL where this talk can be viewed in full to Brad and Doug, but we have found that it has to be done from an on site computer. Maybe someone will have the software to capture the entire streaming presentation and make it available to all of us outside the DOE facilities. I hope so. It was very good.
Perhaps a transcript that can be posted exists?
The question of being "at will" employees centers on the employees right to "due process" prior to termination. Current LANL employees have such a right, due to the grievance policy, which allows for "binding" outcomes to hearings with outside hearing officers. Prior to about 1998, LANL employees had no such right, as the grievance outcome was "advisory". LLNL and LBNL employees, and the UC campuses, have due process rights and are not "at will" employees.

LANL employees need to be aware of this, and resist removal of their "due process" rights. Another area where LANL employees have rights inferior to LBNL and LLNL is in "probation periods" for new employees. Where such probation exists, it is much shorter and the employees have (limited) right to appeal termination, unlike LANL.

LANL employee's rights do not measure up to UC employee rights and the prospect is that they may get worse. An important issue, worth some time and energy.
Mom was right. I shudda been a real doctor.
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