AT Will Essay

Submitted By sharollee
Words: 2069
Pages: 9

The Employment-At-Will Doctrine
According to the article, What does at-will employment mean? (n. d.), at-will employment is often misunderstood and, in many cases, is a grossly over-looked factor in reviewing the employment process by the employee. An at-will employee contract basically means that employers may terminate employment at any time, with or without notice, for good, bad, or no cause at all. Coupled with the reality that there are few remedies for at-will employees many experience dwindling unions and questionable employer practices. Muhl (2001) states that the employee expectation of job security for good performance is eroding in conjunction with a higher incidence of company layoffs, reductions, and job turnover. Further creating complexity in the matter, employment contracts may also vary among different employees based on their duties. In some cases, where there is not a written contract, the contract is implied based on an oral understanding or company practice. In these cases, the behaviors of the employer and employee dictate the agreement.
Therefore, it is important particularly for the employee to understand the meaning of at-will terminology in the employment contract. First and foremost, the employee needs to understand that a contract may be a verbal or written agreement between the employee and employer. Employment agreements may include confidentiality, for example. A confidentiality agreement outlines the employee’s promise not to share any information about consumer or company secrets, processes, formulas, data, machinery usage, or how business is conducted. Confidentiality agreements usually extend beyond the termination of the employment. A second type of agreement is the Non-compete which is for a specified time after employment ends and indicates the employee’s agreement not to work for competing agencies. Ownership of inventions, exclusive employment, and no additional compensation are all additional types of employment agreements. Of mention is the popular agreement, over the past few decades, that outline termination of employment regardless of illness or injury. Often employers enter into arbitration or mediation agreements to resolve mutual employer and employee issues, rather than going to court. Finally, Choice of Law agreements revolve around the specification of a governing body of laws should a dispute arise. Theoretically, employees are not obligated to sign at-will agreements; but, courts have historically upheld the employers’ right to refuse to hire and to fire at will in such cases.
Nonetheless, there are rules that employers must remain cautious about firing employees. Being an at-will employee does not necessarily negate the employers’ adherence to laws that involve discrimination, reporting violations of labor or public or safety laws, harassment claims, or absences from work to vote or to participate in court or military service. At-will clauses have been in place since the late 19th century. Scheid & McDonough (2012) explain that knowing your rights is essential. First, Scheid & McDonough point out that in some states probationary periods are illegal. Overall, the importance of complying with state guidelines is significant in the employer’s execution of termination policies. Though employers may have terminated an employee for negative reasons, if asked for a reference, many will only give the start and end dates of the employment experience. Due to lawsuits most employers follow this safe practice. Employers are urged to document problems with the employee in lieu of the employee’s request for unemployment benefits. Employers who verbally indicate that the employee has a lifetime job with the agency may be challenged in court on this verbal agreement regardless of a written at-will agreement. Though only recognized in 11 of 50 states, the Covenant of Good Faith Exception law prohibits the at-will employment clause and states…