May 3, 2014
Summarize the employment-at-will doctrine
Justice Harlin, in Advir vs US. 161 (1908) stated “the right of an employee to quit the services of the employer, for what so ever reason, is the same as the right of the employer, for whatever reason, to dispense with the services of such employee (Halbert & Ingulli, 2012).”
The doctrine of employment at will emerged as the predominant rule in wrongful discharge cases in America during the latter part of the 19th century. With Employment at Will, known as EAW, even if there is cause to fire someone, their reason does not have to be just, in the sense of being appropriate to the ...view middle of the document...
However, there are emptions to every rule, law is left to interpretation, and frankly, it depends.
The most widespread exception to EAW is when the termination of employee violates State or National policy (Muhl, 2001). This is the most widely accepted of termination exception because it is recognized in 43 of the 50 States (Muhl, 2001). For example, employees cannot be fired as punishment for self-organization as ruled by the Supreme Court in NRLB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp 301 US.1, 45-46 (1937) (Halbert & Ingulli, 2012). A person cannot be fired because of their race, national origin, color, religion, sex, age or disability through the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In Bowman v. State Bank of Keysville 229 Va. 534 (1985) a Virginia court asserted its refusal to condone retaliatory discharges by the State Bank of Keysville (Radin & Werhane, 2003).”
Workers are further protected by Whistleblower Acts such as Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) which protects whistleblowers who report financial misconduct of corporations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, is responsible for enforcing seventeen whistleblower policies such as the Clean Air Act, Occupational Safety Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Super Fund. The Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) oversees whistle blowers for violations of civil rights laws such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Title VII. Finally, the Department of Labor provides whistleblower protection through the Fair Labor Standards Act, National Labor Relations Act, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Sarbanes-Oxley Act (Halbert & Ingulli, 2012).
Another exception it EAW is the implied contract of employment. An implied contract can be formed through employer representations of continued employment either given orally, in employee handbooks company policy and procedures or any other written assurances made by an employer to its employees. This exception is recognized in 38 of the 50 States (Muhl, 2001). The leading case for implied contract was Toussaint v. BC/BS of Michigan where the court ruled that “a provision indicating that an employee would only be fired for ‘just cause’ was enforceable and that such a provision could create an implied contract if it engendered legitimate expectations of job security in the employee (Muhl, 2001).” Implied contract was further upheld in Pine River v. Mettilee where an employee handbook contained two sections that included sections titled “Job Security” and “Disciplinary Policy” and the court determined that employment was offered by the company subject to terms in the handbook, the employee accepted the contract because they showed up for work, thus forming a contract (Muhl, 2001). In Woolley y. Hoffinann-La Roche, Inc. the court held that companies are contractually bound by the statements in their employment manuals. In this case, the employment...