Can hospital employer legally fire me if I do not sign a contract that was not part of my employment agreement terms?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can hospital employer legally fire me if I do not sign a contract that was not part of my employment agreement terms?

After I was hired, during the orientation week, HR presented us nurses with a contract stating we must sign, it stated we must stay at this hospital for 3 years and if we leave prior to that 3 years we must pay them $10,000. This was never a condition of my employment nor was it ever even brought up during the entire hiring process. They have not given any bonus monies. I do not want to sign this as this was not what I agreed to when I accepted the job. Can they legally fire me if I don’t sign it?

Asked on August 14, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, New Mexico


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Unless you currently have an in-effect or unexpired written employment contract for a definite term (e.g. a one-year, two-year, five-year, etc. contract) which by its tems prevents you from being fired for this reason or otherwise protects your employment, yes, they may fire you if you do not sign the contract they are offering you. Without such an in-effect contract, you are an "employee at will," and an employee at will has no job protections and may be terminated at any time, for any reason, including not signing an offered contract.
If you do currently have a written contract, you may not be fired in violaton of its terms.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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