Employment-At-Will Doctrine

Topics: Employment, Whistleblower, At-will employment Pages: 5 (2302 words) Published: May 28, 2014
Summarize the employment-at-will doctrine and evaluate each of the eight (8) scenarios described by determining: The employment-at-will doctrine states that an employee can be fired or released from a company for cause or no cause at all. The employee also has the right to quit a job for any reason. Under this legislation, neither the employer or employee incurs “adverse legal consequences” (NCSL, 2014). There are three exceptions that are observed by the law to include a dismissal that “violates a state’s public policy, where there is an implied contract for employment, or where there is an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing” (Muhl, 2001, p4). People cannot be fired based on the “individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin” (Halbert & Ingulli, 2012, p134). An individual can also not be fired based on a disability or due to filing a workman’s comp claim.

Imagine you are a recently-hired Chief Operating Officer (COO) in a midsize company preparing for an Initial Public Offering (IPO). You quickly discover multiple personnel problems that require your immediate attention. As an astute manager, you will need to analyze the employment-at-will doctrine and determine what, if any, exceptions and liabilities exist before taking any action. oWhether you can legally fire the employee; include an assessment of any pertinent exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine. oWhat action you should take to limit liability and impact on operations; specify which ethical theory best supports your decision.

John posted a rant on his Facebook page in which he criticized the company’s most important customer. John’s actions took place on his own time, and the information was posted on his personal site. The action from the company would depend on whether John made the post and none of his coworkers chimed in or agreed with him, or if someone did agree with him. Concerted activity is protected under the law but not grunts and groaning from one employee. According to Eidelson (2012), “concerted activity will take different forms for different workers”. Quite simply put, John’s post could cause a loss of business for the company or even a disgruntled customer, not to mention the company’s most important customer. The company would be protected in firing him. I made this decision based on the Ethics of Care. John made a comment about our most important customer, and it is the company’s business to make sure the customer continues to be our most important customer. •Jim sent an email to other salespeople protesting a change in commission schedules and bonuses and suggesting everyone boycott the next sales meeting. Jim’s case is interesting. The answer to firing him is it depends. If Jim is disgruntled and just decided to send out an email to all of his coworkers to get them roweled up, then he could be fired legally. However, if he had been talking to other employees and then sent them an email to further talk about actions to take, he would be protected under the law as “protected concerted activity” (Eidelson, 2012). Also, the judge may look at Jim’s case to see if he talked with any of the upper management about concerns before trying to get others to boycott. The judge would check to see if Jim was part of a union as well. In one case where an employee sent an email, the judge ruled that her firing was legal, because her email "merely expressed an individual gripe rather than any shared concerns about working conditions" (Newby, 2013). Since this description did not say that other employees joined in with Jim, the judge would rule that his firing was legal. After firing Jim, I would call a meeting with the rest of the employees to make sure that Jim’s attitude towards the company had not spread to others and to try to find some solutions if it had. I made this decision based on the Virtue Ethics model. •Ellen started a blog to protest the CEO’s bonus, noting that no one below...

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Cornell University Law School. Legal Information Institute. Retrieved May 4th, 2014, from http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/employment-at-will_doctrine.
Eidelson, J. (2012). Can You Be Fired for What You Post on Facebook? Retrieved May 4th, 2014, from http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/
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Muhl, C. (2001). The employment-at-will doctrine: Three major exceptions. Retrieved May 4th, 2014, from http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2001/01/art1full.pdf
National Conference of State Legislatures
Newby, L. (2014). When Complaining about Your Job on Facebook Can Get You Fired. Retrieved May 4th, 2014, from http://legalblogwatch.typepad.com/ legal_blog_watch/2013/05/when-complaining-about-your-job-on-facebook-can- get-you-fired.html
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NOLO. (2014). Taking Time Off for Jury Duty. Retrieved May 4th, 2014, from http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/taking-time-off-jury-duty.html
Rogers, K
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