Employment-at-Will Doctrine and its Exceptions

The doctrine of employment-at-will was first commonly adopted in the American common law in the 19th century. According to (Cihon & Castagnera, 2016) the employment-at-will doctrine holds that unless the employee and employer expressly agree on a particular duration any of the duo can severe the relationship at anytime for any reason. However, the author points that in the middle of 20th century, several common-law exceptions have been curved out from the doctrine, narrowing it even more.

 An example of the use of this exception is the public policy exception, which prohibits an employer from firing an employee if in the process it will lead to undermining of the public policy mandate (Cihon & Castagnera, 2016). For instance, the example of scenario three in question one provides a perfect example of a case where public policy exception can be applied. According to the authors, most states have fined employers for firing employees absent from work for attending jury duties (p. 36).

The other exception to the doctrine of employment-at-will is the legal doctrine of an implied contract. According to (Cihon & Castagnera, 2016) although the parties may not have had an agreement regarding the duration of employment relationship, then the employee policy or employee handbook may otherwise state that an employee may not be fired except for good cause. Or still the employee policy or company handbook may provide a form of arbitration or procedure that should be followed before an employee is fired, making the decision final one.

The other exceptions of the doctrine of employment-at-will regard collective bargaining agreements and individual employments contracts. In the case where the employees are covered under a union or association agreements, such employees have contractual provisions, which stipulates when and how they can be fired. In case such members belief they have been unfairly dismissed, unions can file claims on their behalf. On the other hand, for workers under individual employment contracts, they have (in some companies or organizations) terms that govern their employment and conditions for discharge. In such a case, the employer is compelled to follow such terms and discharge conditions.

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