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At-Will Employment - Essay Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: At-Will Employment Background The at-will employment rule is grounded in Horace Wood’s treatise of 1987 on the relationship between a master and his/her employee (Barbash et al 9). He cited four cases in the U.S., which he used as an authority for the rule, contending that when hiring was done indefinitely, then the burden of proof lay with the servant in proving the terms of the indefinite employment were for a year…
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At-Will Employment
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Download file to see previous pages In 1980, the Supreme Court of California, in a landmark case that involved ARCO, endorsed this rule as articulated earlier by the court of appeal. The actions that resulted from employees became known as Tameny actions in California for wrongful termination that violated public policy (Barbash et al 11). Several statutory common law exceptions have been in existence since 1959. The common law protects employees from retaliation from an employer if they are ordered to perform something illegal. The burden of proof, however, remained with the employee. The legislature of Montana passed the WDE Act that, although purporting to preserve the concept in law, expressly enumerates wrongful discharge actions in legal basis (Barbash et al 12). It was the only state in the US that chose to modify the at-will employment rule, doing so in 1987. Why it exists Employment with a firm is at-will, meaning that employment is bound to be terminated at whichever time with or sans notice or cause (Barbash et al 20). This also means that a firm can terminate one’s employment at any time by either issuing or not issuing cause or notice. Additionally, the firm may also require altering the status of employment, hours of employment, the schedule or demotion at its own discretion with or sans cause or notice. While the firm will generally adhere to progressive discipline, they are not obligated or bound to do this. As an employee employed at-will, in any manner, an individual does not have a guarantee that they will be employed for a particular period (David 20). No one at the firm, with the exception of the president, in a signed contract can make any promise or representation to an employee that they are anything but an at-will employee. Supervisors, managers or employees, who make such representation or promise to an employee, are not authorized to carry out this duty. Exceptions For at-will employees, there are exceptions given to the general rule. Under public policy in the laws of a majority of the states, an employer cannot terminate employment of an employee if it is a violation of a public policy that is well established by the state (Ford et al 52). For instance, employers may generally not fire employees if they make a compensation claim since the policy that requires them to pay compensation to the workers as clearly set out by state statute. Terminating employment for the reporting of illegal activity is also a violation of public policy. Another exception has to do with retaliation or discrimination. Under federal law, employers may not use discrimination when terminating an employee based on disability, age, national origin, sex, religion, color or race (Ford et al 53). Many municipalities and states also prohibit employee termination based on sexual orientation. The employer may also not fire an employee as an act of retaliation if they make a complaint regarding harassment or discrimination. A different exception is related to implied contract. At times, the conduct or words of an employer could create the implication of an agreement limiting the ability of that employer to terminate the employment terms of an employee at-will (David 54). For instance, when the employer’s handbook on employees states that, the employee is liable for termination for a cause that is just; ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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