AnnaMarie Houlis
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Here's everything you need to know about the right-to-work law, at-will employment and these mean in Arizona.

What is right to work?

The right-to-work law, which is also known as the Workplace Freedom or Workplace Choice law, is a law that grants workers the right to choose whether or not they'd like to join a union in their workplace. Likewise, it also makes it optional for workers already in unionized workplaces to pay union dues and other membership fees that are required for union representation (whether they're involved in the union or not).

What is at-will employment?

Every state with the exception of Montana is an at-will employment state. Under the at-will employment policy, either the employer or the employee can terminate employment at any time for any reason (unless it's illegal and proven wrongful termination, which is hard to do) without consequence — unless the employee has a contract or a union agreement that states otherwise.

Is Arizona a right to work state?

Arizona is indeed a right-to-work state. 

The law reads: "No person shall be denied the opportunity to obtain or retain employment because of non-membership in a labor organization, nor shall the State or any subdivision thereof, or any corporation, individual or association of any kind enter into any agreement, written or oral, which excludes any person from employment or continuation of employment because of non-membership in a labor organization. (Addition approved election Nov. 5, 1946, eff. Nov. 25, 1946; amended November 30, 1982.)"

This also means that "no person shall be denied the opportunity to obtain or retain employment because of nonmembership in a labor organization, nor shall the state or any subdivision thereof, or any corporation, individual or association of any kind enter into an agreement, written or oral, which excludes a person from employment or continuation of employment because of nonmembership in a labor organization," according to the law.

Can you be fired for any reason in Arizona?

Arizona is an at-will state, which means that you can be fired for any just reason at any time. Proving wrongful termination isn't always an easy feat, but your employer can only fire you for legal reasons.

What are important Arizona labor laws?

Here are three important labor laws in Arizona of which you should be aware.

1. Minimum Wage

Recently, on November 8, 2016, Arizona voters approved Proposition 206, which is referred to as the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act (the “Act”). The Industrial Commission of Arizona was given the authority to both implement and enforce the Act.

This Proposition 206 had raised the minimum wage requirement to $10.00 per hour, which became effective as of January 1, 2017. The Act requires employers to offer employees earned paid sick time benefits to all Arizona employees, which became effective as of July 1, 2017. 

Then, effective January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018, Arizona's minimum wage become $10.50 per hour. And, effective as of January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019 Arizona's minimum wage is now $11.00 per hour.

2. Arizona Civil Rights Act

Most non-government workplaces in the state of Arizona must comply both with Federal laws that prohibit discrimination, harassment and family medical leaves of absence, as well as with Arizona and Municipal laws relating to the same subjects.

The Arizona Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of age (40 years or older); on the basis of race, color and national origin; on the basis of a physical or mental disability; on the basis of gender; on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity; on the basis of religion and on the basis of physical or mental disability.

"Under Arizona law, an employee may bring a constructive discharge claim without prior written notice in the event of outrageous conduct by the employer or a managing agent of the employer, including sexual assault; threats of violence directed at the employee; a continuous pattern of discriminatory harassment and other similar kinds of conduct, if the conduct could cause a reasonable employee to feel compelled to resign."

3. Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Arizona Civil Rights Act, for example, does not currently cover any specific prohibitions against pregnancy discrimination. That said, the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) prohibits many employers from discriminating against workers based on pregnancy or childbirth — and this applies to Arizona, as well.

What are some resources for Arizona employees?

To learn more about employment laws in Arizona, check out these resources:

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

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