The Employment at will Doctrine: Case Study
Many legal avenues exist most of which either disarm or arm the employers with the power to discharge any employee who seeks to file claims crucifying their employers. However, the employment-at-will doctrine provides such an avenue that levels both the employer and employee legal stands. The doctrine defines the presumptions directing that any form of employment holds for an indefinite period up until either of the employer or employee decides to terminate it. On the other hand, the whistleblower policy exists such that it protects employees from greedy employers who never provide a legal forum for their employees to distress their concerns.
Given the discussion, the following article reviews case scenarios involving employer-employee and master-servant relationships that exist within the organization. From this scenario, the article identifies legal application of both the “at will” doctrine and the whistleblower policy (Lipman, 2012) and how firms can best solve employment through these policies. Similarly, the paper identifies a real-world example of an employer utilizing employment-at-will doctrine in order to make proper implications of the doctrine.
The general legal case dictates that employees without any written employment contract can face job termination for a bad, good or no cause at all. However, the at-will doctrine authorizes either the employer or the employee to terminate an employment contract with or without cause or warning, given that there are no further agreement details with implicating terms and conditions (Shepherd, 2011).
The only requirement of the at-will situation is that terminations, coming from the employer, must not discriminate or violate the specific local or federal laws. In, for instance, a termination case, the employer prohibited from terminating their employees or taking an “adverse employment action” to employees on the basis of their gender, disability, race, national origin, age or any activity protected by the state or federal laws.
[bookmark: _GoBack] Take, for instance, a case scenario where one of the firm’s departmental supervisors approaches the Chief Operating Officer (COO) in the request for permission to terminate employment for his secretary in reason for insubordination. However, upon reviewing the situation, the COO finds out that the case “insubordination” was that the secretary had refused to prepare fabricated expense reports to the supervisor.
Clearly, there exists some very serious legal implications of the at-will doctrine to the scenario. First, the doctrine issues protection to employees who refuse to perform any defined illegal act at the request of their employers. The supervisor, in this case, plays the role of an employer seeking illegal recording that is against the firm’s rules and regulations. It, hence, implies that the COO is not in a position to authorize any job termination act to the Secretary (Shepherd, 2011). As a matter of fact, the supervisor is due to face punishment for acting or intending to act against the firm’s policies.
A similar act implies to the scenario where the firm’s COO is presented with a case where Anna’s boss wants to fire her for not attending duty. The filled case reports that Anna had requested a job leave for jury, but her boss refused to grant her. Ethics requires the COO to at the least grant both parties a chance to justify their exertions.Anna’s boss should present Anna’s work attendance records while Anna, on the other side, presents her medical records.Jury service exists as one of the employee protected rights by the federal law, and thus Anna’s boss had no right, by all means, to renounce her the right to the jury leave.Hence, until the COO finds any implicating records on Anna’s work record file that implies a concurrent behavior of work abandonment, the COO is entitled to call off the job termination threat and instead grants Anna her Jury leave up until she is in good health again (Shepherd, 2011).
The third case scenario involves a firm employee; Ellen, who blogs a protest against the Chief Executive Officer’s bonus granting criteria. Ellen states in her blogs that none of the employees below the director level have received a bonus raise for the past two years. The latter also adds protests which implies that her bosses are “out-of-touch” and that they are “know-nothings.” Well, this is a rather harder personnel problem with highly involving ethical and legal implications.
It is important for both the employer and the employee to know the terms of their employment contract and what each phrase implies both in the social and legal ground. The at-will doctrine could protect the employees from the many facets from which they can be manipulated by their employers. Indeed, the doctrine even allows the formation of employee unions that act as legal and certified representatives of the employees (Shepherd, 2011). With the Union, employees are now able to lever the unequal bargaining power that exist between them and their employers.
Ellen could be right all about the bonus and the competitive level of her bosses. However, does that mean that she stands on a legal ground when she starts a critique blog to scrutinize the firm publicly? No. She unfortunately did the probable right thing but on the wrong platform.
The COO’s competent review finds out that the firm had no whistleblower policy: The only policy that provides employees with a legal forum to express reasonably identified activities, policies or practices worth public critique (Lipman,2012). The lack of this document in the initial employment agreement alters the official legal position that protects Ellen from facing a legal suit by the firm.
For this reason, and in pursuant of the termsand conditions of the employment contract, the COO should fire Ellen and file a legal suit to regain the firm’s credibility to the outside world. However, The COO should also conduct an internal assessment to review the performance of the firm’s managing team, as well as the bonus flow and equality on the bonus share (Shepherd, 2011).
The above case scenarios are just an emulation of the real world occurrence that seeks justification from the legal and ethical brackets. However, Pinnacle Entertainment; a large-scale casino operative firm in St. Louis presents a proper real-world application of the specific terms of the “employment-at-will” doctrine under the Missouri law. Since 2004, one of Pinnacle Entertainment’s casino branch; President Casino, operated on an employee handbook that each employee signed during employment. The handbook guaranteed legal procedures, policies, and employee benefits programs that were in writing and signed by both employee and the human resources director (Hasman, 2014).
President Casino’s management broke and as of March 10th, 2010, its employees were promised either a transfer to the adjacent Pinnacle branches or be offered retention bonuses and some severance packages.Importantly, none of these promises were detailed in writing nor signed off as specified in the employment handbook (Hasman, 2014).On April 20th, 2010, President denounced its promise, and neither the bonuses nor the severance packages were issued to its employees when the casino closed on July the same year.
President Casino plays as a perfect example illustrating the application and manipulation of the at-will doctrine in the real-world. Yes, the employee could be handed with a handbook containing all real policies and practices of the firm. However, it is important that all along the journey in the employment relationship that both parties be keen of the specifics of each endeavor they take in everyday commitment. There could be just a small omitted phrase such as the whistleblowers policy in Ellen’s case or just a neglected recording as stated in President Casino’s case: All of which translate into regret and probably an impulsive legal suit.
Lipman, F. (2012). Whistleblowers: Incentives, Disincentives, and Protection Strategies. John Wiley & Sons.
Shepherd, J. (2011). Firing At Will: A Manager’s Guide (Apress Media, 2011) 3-4.
Hasman, J. (2014, May 13). A Win for Missouri’s Employment-At-Will Doctrine. Web. Retrieved February 9, 2015.