Employment at Will Doctrine

Topics: Employment, Ethics, Virtue ethics Pages: 8 (1666 words) Published: May 25, 2014

Employment-At-Will Doctrine
Legal 500
Professor Grey
May 4, 2014

This paper will summarize the employment-at-will doctrine and evaluate eight (8) scenarios. In the scenarios, I will determine whether the employee can be fired for certain actions and what action should be taken to limit liability on operations. I will specify each theory that best supports my decision. I will also decide whether or not to adopt a whistleblower policy. I will also include three (3) fundamental items that should be included in the policy.

Employment-At-Will Doctrine
The Employment-At-Will Doctrine is a law in certain states that basically means employers can fire employees for no reason at all. “Employment-At-Will gives employers broad discretion to fire employees “for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all””(Halbert & Inguilli, 2012). There are certain exceptions to this rule, which will be discussed later in this paper. “An at-will employee can be fired at any time, for any reason (except for a few illegal reasons, spelled out below). If the employer decides to let you go, that's the end of your job--and you have very limited legal rights to fight your termination” (Nolo, 2014). Employers can adopt an Employment-At-Will Doctrine in all 50 states except for Montana. In Montana, employees have a law “which protects employees who have completed an initial "probationary period" from being fired without cause” (Nolo, 2014).

An employee also has the right to terminate employment under the Employment-At-Will Doctrine. Any employee can quit his or her job for no reason at all at any time. “An employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences” (NCSL, 2014).

As COO of my company I will summarize eight (8) scenarios to determine if the employees can be legally fired, if there are any exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine, what action should be taken to limit liability on operations and choose an ethical theory that best supports my decision.

The first scenario is an employee named John. John posted information on his Facebook page criticizing the company’s most important customer. Can the company terminate John for ranting on his Facebook page about their most important customer? John resides in a state that allows the employment-at-will doctrine to be enforced. The company can fire John because he is not protected under any exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine. The only law John could have used was the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, but he did not fit the criteria of the law. “Workers have sought to solve their very modern employment predicament by using the law that kick-started the U.S. labor movement: the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. The law gives private-sector employees certain rights to complain about pay, safety and other working conditions. It doesn't protect simple griping” (Trottman, 2011). In the future the company will review their Social Media policy and make sure they have all employees sign a Social Media Agreement explaining what is acceptable when dealing with social media. The ethical theory that best supports my decision is the Virtue Ethics.

Jim sent an e-mail to other salespeople discussing commission schedules and bonuses and suggesting a boycott of the next meeting. Jim lives in an employee-at-will state. Can the company terminate Jim for sending the e-mail? I have concluded the company cannot fire Jim for sending the e-mail. Jim is protected under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. He can send messages about pay and working conditions under the law. It would be unlawful for the company to fire Jim. I would have a discussion with Jim to discuss how we could handle the issue and have a meeting will all employees to limit the company’s liability. The ethical theory that best supports my...

References: Greenfield, M. S., & Corliss, K. L. (2013). The Courage to Come Forward. Trustee, 66(7), 21-
Halbert, T., & Ingulli, E. (2012). Law and Ethics in the business environment. (7th ed.).
Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.
National Conference of State Legislatures. (2014). Retrieved from
Nolo. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/employment-at-will- definition-30022.html
Society for Human Resource Management
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