Employment-at-will vs. “just cause” Employment
Business and Ethics
November 30, 2009
Employment-at-will has been around since the beginning of the 19th century, and it was adopted from English common law. According to Summers, “the English common law is viewed as the employment relation as a contractual relationship that binds the parties to a continuing relationship”. When employment-at-will was adopted the United States government was more of a laissez-faire capitalist style government with very few rules and regulations in the workplace.5 Now they have become more of a democratic style where they are more hands-on and have established different rules that protect the employee more than the employer. With these rules in place it is hard to say that you still have employment-at-will where an employer may terminate a worker with justification, with inadequate justification, or with no justification at all. Some of the rules include the New Deal labor laws that were put in place in the 1930s that forbid firings linked to union activity, civil rights laws that forbid the firing of motivated workers by the worker’s race, color, sex, national origin, use of Spanish language, age, disability and in some places, sexual orientation.4 These are just a few examples of laws that have been put in-effect that protect the rights of an employee, but with employment-at-will in-effect in 49 states you can still fire an employee with no justification which gives you a loophole around the laws that have been put in place. The one state that does not use employment-at-will is Montana, they use a “just cause” employment where you must have justification backed with evidence of why the employee should be terminated. I think the rest of the country should adopt this method because employment-at-will is outdated, other countries have switched over to the “just cause” method and it has worked out for both the employee and the employer. “Just...