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Law & Ethics Essay

2938 words - 12 pages

Assignment: Assignment 1
Title: Employment At-Will Doctrine
Student: David Nti-Berko
Professor: Anne E. Dewey-Balzhiser
Course: LEG 500 – Law, Ethics, and Corporate Governance
Submission Date: 07/28/2013


Since the latter part of the nineteenth century, employment at-will has been the starting point in America employer-employee relationships (D. Mathews, 1975). Under the doctrine of employment at-will, an employer may terminate employees for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all. Most western industrialized countries do not observe employment at-will doctrine. According to the legal history, employment ...view middle of the document...

Although some of the more extreme tactics used by employers have not been tested in the courts, many legal observers believe that such policies will be upheld because of the broad nature of the employment at-will doctrine.
Even though the at-will doctrine is broad, employers and employees should also understand its limits or exceptions to the rule. Regardless of at-will status, there are certain reasons that an employer can almost never cite as a basis for termination. For instance, an employer can never terminate an employee because of their race, age, national origin, gender or any other trait that is protected by the state and federal laws
In this paper, eight (8) scenarios will be assessed to determine whether the employee should be terminated or the at-will doctrine exception rule can be applied. Next, each case will be examined, determine the action to implement to limit company’s liability and impact on operations, and the ethical theory used to arrive at the decision. Next, a whistleblower policy will be assessed and recommended to the company. Finally, three (3) fundamental items included in the whistleblower policy will be justified.
Employee-At-Will Doctrine Scenarios Evaluation
Many employees in America believe that satisfactory job performance should be rewarded with benefits and job security. However, the notion of not getting terminated due to job satisfactory performance has been eroded in the recent decades in the face of mass layoffs, workforce reduction, and job turnover. In legal terms, employment in each of the United States does observe the employment at-will doctrine, whereby the doctrine avows that, when an employee does not have a written employment contract and the term of employment is of indefinite duration, the employer can terminate the employee for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all (Shane and Rosenthal, 1999). Social changes in the 1960s and 1970s introduced by the civil rights movements brought about several statutory exceptions preventing employers from terminating or failing to hire employees based upon sex, race, age, religion, or physical disability among other parts. The effectiveness of the doctrine has also been debated by courts and commentators, with many arguing that the flexibility afforded by the doctrine benefits both employers and employees. The adoption of the at-will rule by the courts greatly facilitated the development of the American economy (R. A Epstein, 1984).
The table below (Table 1) shows multiple scenarios of personnel problems that will be evaluated with the at-will doctrine to determine if the employee in each scenario deserves to be legally terminated or not.
Table 1: Employment At-Will Scenarios:
|# |Scenarios |Can Legally Be Fired |Pertinent Exception to At-Will |
|1 |John posted a rant on his Facebook page in |John’s action calls for him to be terminated. It is |No pertinent...

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