Employment –At-Will: An Unequal Doctrine
28 October 2006
It may come as somewhat of a surprise, but unless there is a legal contract involved between the employer and the employee, the working relationship according to the at-will doctrine, may be severed by either party at any time without prior notice and for any reason whatsoever, without any legal ramifications. This premise of equal footing between the employer and employee is what employment –at-will doctrine is based upon. Even though the equal bargaining power may have been intended and promoted, the advantage still remained with the employer. However, since its inception many societal changes have taken place, and with it the way the employment-at-will doctrine is implemented. These changes are continuing to diminish the concept of employment-at-will doctrine to the point that it may be altogether doomed. The pendulum seems to have definitely swung to the side of the employee. This paper will take a look at the development and current status of the employment-at-will doctrine and why the future of this doctrine is doomed.
Initially, the employer had the economic advantages when bargaining with employees. After all, the employee needed the employment to survive and feed his or her family. Therefore, the employer was is the power position. The beginning of the Industrial Revolution was an example of just how great an advantage the employer had. This was the time of the infamous “sweatshops”. Employees working long hours for little pay under poor and unsafe working conditions was prevalent during the turn of the century industrialization of American cities. However, the Industrial Revolution also gave rise to the idea of workers unions and collective bargaining as a vehicle to even the playing field between the employer/employee relationship. Slowly but surely society, and more importantly, the court system began to see that employees needed a way to protect themselves against unjust...