30 Aug 2022

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Exceptions to the Employment-At-Will Doctrine

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Academic level: Master’s

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The concept behind the Employment-At-Will Doctrine is that in America, workers without an employment contract that is written, can be dismissed for a cause that is good, wrong, or in the absence of a cause at all. The Employment-at-will-doctrine is the belief that employment is for an uncertain period and work may be stopped by either the employee or employer. The courts have taken this historical approach in explaining the relationships in the employment sector. The exceptions to the doctrine created by the judiciary seek to avoid wrongful terminations. Because there is different bargaining power between employers and workers, critics of this conviction have realized that it has harsh results and have searched for unions, assuming the roles of certified representatives of employees to balance bargaining power in employment (Clyde W. Summers, 2009). The voices of the unions ensure that they ask in good faith when it comes to bargaining on the employer’s part, employment security and other advantages. 

The courts in the state came across other exemptions to the doctrine. The first crucial exception is the public policy. An employer is prohibited from terminating an employee by the public policy exception in case the employee goes against the well-created State’s public policy. For example, in most states, a worker may not be relieved of his duties for filing an employee’s allowance claim following an injury on the job. Employers are barred by State policies from dismissing workers for refusal to go against the law at the request of the company. However, criteria for what is against the policy of the public in a particular state depends from state to state. However, many countries are now concerned about protecting the rights of the employees at work. 

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The second notable exemption is used when an assumed contract is created between an employee and his or her employer despite the fact that there is no express, drafted document concerning the existing employment relationship. Even though work is not controlled by a contract, an employer may create prepared or oral representations to workers concerning job security or processes that will come after adverse employment activities are taken. In the case of this scenario, these representations may develop an employment contract. 

The third exception to this doctrine is the covenant that advocates for fair dealing and good faith. A few states recognize this agreement in relationships in the employment sector. The interpretations of this agreement by the judiciary have changed from needing a just cause for dismissal to preventing layoffs made in bad faith or driven by malice (Muhl, 2008). An example of a bad faith dismissal is when an employer terminates an employee who is old to avoid giving him his retirement benefits that he rightfully deserves. 

Scenario One 

Anna’s boss refused to sign her leave request for jury duty and now wants to fire her for being absent without permission. 

Looking at this scenario, it will not be legally right to relive Anna from her duties. Firing her will go against the public policy exception. Government policy safeguards employees against harsh actions in the employment sector that are against the public interest. By undertaking jury duty which is a fundamental civic duty, Anna just involved herself in the measures that are in the benefit of the public which is not a crime, so there is no just cause to fire her. The company will have a bad reputation if Anna is fired since it has a temperament to be injurious to the right of the public. Therefore, Anna has the full protection of the law. 

Scenario Two 

Ellen started a blog to protest the CEO’s bonus, noting that no one below the director has gotten a raise in two years and portraying her bosses as “know-nothings” and “out of touch.” 

Having such negative comments like this can be very harmful to an organization that is attempting to create an IPO for it to become public. Employees are advised against blogging own thoughts especially those that could be detrimental to a company in case they are writing a blog about a company. An individual should do a slight thoughtful review without personal hateful communication or share different stories. Such hateful comments can be labelled as insults and defamation despite the fact that they are written outside the environment of the company. The insults can still get back to the firm. According to ethics, Ellen can be dismissed from her work for not supporting the organization’s ethical rules. 

Under the laws of the GA, because she is an at-will worker, she is there because she chooses to. Nobody has forced her to work for that firm. Hence the company can still terminate her on the grounds of being unethical. The words she wrote on her blog can be used as evidence against her in case she tries to sue the company. These problems could be prevented in the future if the firm had a whistleblower. I would advise the company to outline a useful process to enable its workers to submit their ethical issues or concerns internally before the company goes public. Failure to do this, the company will still experience such problems, and it will affect the IPO of the organization. 

Scenario Three 

John posted a rant on his Facebook page in which he criticized the company’s most important customer. 

Individuals use Facebook for sharing views and social networking. John did not do the right thing when he slammed a client on social media. If it was necessary for him to air his problems, he should have done it in another avenue or better yet talk to his superiors. Clients are sensitive when it comes to their image and a lot of time is needed for a company to build good and honest relationships with their customers. As a result, what John did could break the relation between the client and the company he works for, and it will not be easy to repair that relationship. Sharing views on Facebook or blog sites have an adverse effect which leads to hearsay or speculations. John’s post may start a rumor within the company and among other individuals. 

During the hiring processes, employees are informed about the company’s policies which are mandatory for the purpose of maintaining a positive environment for the customers and staff themselves. What John did offend the client and displayed an image of the company that does not symbolize our code of ethics. Any worker that fails to adhere to such policies is liable to face disciplinary actions such as termination of employment. Therefore, it is right to relieve John from his duties. 

The first activity that one should take to inhibit liability decrease potential impacts on the company include; reviewing and making the necessary changes in the handbook of the Employees. Drafting an employee handbook can protect the company from worker related issues. Updating the guide is vital. Failure to do this may lead to some laws becoming outdated as laws change over time and the laws may also be contrary to existing legislation of employment. In case a company is faced with a lawsuit from an angry worker, the old handbook can be damaging. 

Also, it is important to go through and update the hire package for new employees. Employers should ensure the packages are up to date and are consistent with the employee handbook. Training managers and supervisors are crucial. Written harassments policies are only helpful when a company has trained managers and supervisors because they will know what to do when discrimination is observed or reported. Furthermore, updating the law notices on state and federal labor is crucial so that applicants and employees are informed of their work and employment rights. The ethical theory that supports my decision is Utilitarianism. 

In the judgement of Fareed V. Cobb County School District, Inc ., Gary Fareed was a patrol personnel at a school in the Cobb School District. He went for breaks during summer because the schools were closed. Because he worked in a school, Gary assumed that he always had a job when the school reopens in the fall. Before he resumed to work in the fall, he got a letter from the school asking him to apply for a similar position in another school. He applied for the job, but he was denied because he had a criminal past. Out of Fury, Fareed sued the school on the grounds of wrongful dismissal, breaching the clause of equal protection and violation of fair dealing and God faith. 

The judge dismissed the claims of breaching fair dealing and good faith and wrongful termination because Fareed never said that he signed a contract with Cobb school. He did not also come up with proof of breach of contract. The clause on equal protection was dismissed because he did not have evidence that he was mistreated (JUSTIA US law, 2014). The court’s ruling was in favor of the defendants. Employment-at-will is displayed in this case as the school hired or re-hired as they liked. It also depicts how it is crucial to comprehend both company and state laws. Fareed filed a case because he felt that he was entitled to his job. However, he did not have enough evidence which made him lose the case. 

In summary, having a whistleblower policy and an employee handbook is imperative in a company. Such systems prevent certain issues that may arise among the employees. Also, employees have an obligation to know the policies of the company and the state. 

References 

Clyde W. Summers. (2009). Employment at will in the United States: The divine right of employers. U. Pa. J. Lab. & Emp. L. 3 , 65. 

JUSTIA US law. (2014, June 20). cases/federal/district-courts/georgia/gandce/1:2013cv03160/198541/19/ . Retrieved from http://law.justia.com: http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/georgia/gandce/1:2013cv03160/198541/19/ 

Muhl, C. J. (2008). The employment-at-will doctrine: three major exceptions. Monthly Lab. Rev. , 126-126. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). Exceptions to the Employment-At-Will Doctrine.
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