Wednesday, January 27, 2016


On page 160, the textbook briefly discusses "Employment-at-Will," in which legal sanction is given "to the principle that an employee works only at the will of the employer and can be dismissed at any time, for any legal reason." (Emphasis added.)
     However, that final caveat is being reinforced by litigation in many employment-at-will states in addition to the book's example of someone being fired contrary to an adopted staff manual's procedures.
     Albuquerque attorney Martin G. Marshall points out that the courts are chipping away at the employers' right to arbitrarily fire someone under this employment doctrine in many states. This makes it more likely that a fired employee can appeal to a jury, which is often more sympathetic to the employee than to the employer.
     As an example, Marshall cites court cases in New Mexico, which is an employment-at-will state and typical of others. He said the doctrine "has been swallowed by exceptions such a public-policy, whistle-blower, and anti-discrimination laws. Also, the National Labor Relations Board has taken the position that a broad employment-at-will in employee contracts or handbooks might violate the National Labor Relations Act."
     Marshall said the employer's situation is difficult. He recommends that a contract's at-will statement include a system of severance for "non-cause" terminations and a separate arbitration for "cause" firings.

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