Sample Business Research Paper on Employment at will

Employment at Will


This essay will analyze the law that talks about an employee being allowed free will in regards to their employee contract, and the employer is allowed the same rights, while analyzing three real life situations where the doctrine can be applied at the workplace. Many individuals have criticized the specific law relating to the employee/ employer relationship citing that it has been used harshly to the disadvantage of the employee. Proponents of the doctrine however cite that employment is a relationship between the employer and employee which cannot last eternity and there are unforeseen circumstances that the either party feels that the relationship no longer serves them well, and in such a situation, either party is free to terminate the relationship following all stated terms and regulations. The doctrine law was held by the U.S. Supreme throughout the 19th century on the grounds that it would limit government from trying to manipulate the labor field. In the 20th century, there are various states that have modified the doctrine so as to suit both parties and ensure fair treatment of employees (Twomey, 2009). One of the disadvantages that most employees face which limits them from protecting themselves and having a fair argument when fired is that they are not unionized. Most private sector employees do not belong to any labor unions which would offer them protection from such abrupt firing. The research paper will explore the ethical and legal issues that affect consumer and employee privacy, any protection offered to whistleblowers and any exceptions that might exist to this specific relationship related to the employee and the employer.

Exceptions to the employee at will rule

There are exceptions to the doctrine which include failure of an employee to refuse in the participation of an act that would lead to committing of a crime such as perjury. Individuals are also protected from the emplacement at will law if they act as whistleblowers especially for accounting scandals. An organization also cannot use the specific doctrine to fire an employee if they have acted in the interest of the public or exercised a statutory right; which has interfered with their job. The labor based organization offers advice to individuals caught up in legal issues and it has in recent times been faced by an increase in the number of complaints related to social media dismissals from work (Miller & Gaylord, 2010). The cases are handled differently based on policies in place.

The following real life cases will apply the ideas of freedom against responsibility and using ethics when making decisions in organizations.

Real life examples

Example 1

Most of the recent cases that have occurred in organizations have resulted in firing of employees who have taken to social media to complain about their workplaces or clients. The companies that have taken these actions have supported their actions through the claim that the complaints, criticism and negative portrayal of the companies have resulted in negative publicity which has a negative impact on income earned and profit margins. However, most companies do not have specific human resources policies that dictate treatment of employees based on their social media activity. Most individuals feel that what they do during their free time whether on work or personal computers and phones should not be analyzed (Twomey, 2009).

Individuals caught up in such situations feel that they are just venting which is their right since the constitution allows free speech for all American citizens. In this particular case, the human resources manager would be excused if he fired John since the customer would get the impression that John’s comments were thoughts of the company. John is a company employee and he portrays the company’s brand and image through his actions and speech. However, the human resources manager could ask John to make a public apology through his facebook page and put him on probation so as to deter other employees and redeem the company’s image. Most employees that have been accused of posting inflammatory or offensive posts that have a negative effect on the company’s image have sought legal advice from the National Labor relations Act 1935 (Miller & Gaylord, 2010).

Case 5

Anna cannot be fired under the employee at will doctrine because her jury duty is an act of conducted in favor of public interest. Anna had also been cautious as to give notice and ask for permission to attend the jury duty. Acting in a matter that is of interest to the public is one of the exceptions that applies to the employee at will law in organizations (Twomey, 2009).

 Case 6

The human resources manager cannot fire the secretary since one of the exceptions of the employee at will law applies in this case. Firing the secretary could expose the company to litigation and investigations especially if the secretary is telling the truth about the department supervisor recording false expenses and trying to pass them as his. The human resources manager would have to collaborate with the accounting department to ascertain these claims after which he would have to penalize and probably fire the departmental supervisor for trying to embezzle funds. Since there is no whistleblower policy, the human resources department would have to come up with new regulations and policies that ensure human personnel are protected from any repercussions that would befall them for expose corrupt individuals at the company (Cihon  & Castagnera, 2013). To ensure minimal liability, it would be appropriate to ensure that the correct guidelines and rules are followed while conducting investigations into the claims made by the secretary over her departmental supervisor.


The essay has looked at the employment at will doctrine law and its application in organizations. This specific labor related law allows either employer or employee to terminate an employment contract at any time without having given prior notice. This law has been criticized especially since those on the receiving end are employees who are dismissed for what appears to be non valid reasons: such as complaining about a company on social media or being accused of being uncooperative. In some case, the actions committed by the employees truly deserve their being dismissed from a company while in some cases, individuals in high positions such as supervisors take advantage of the law so as to cover up their own mistakes. Companies should come up with clear policies that have whistleblower policies to ensure that employees are not afraid of being fired when they report illegal issues that other employees could be engaging in, and exposing the company to litigation and penalty fines imposed by industry regulators (Miller & Gaylord, 2010).





Cihon, P. & Castagnera, J. (2013).  Employment and Labor Law. Ohio: Cengage brain.

Miller, R. & Gaylord, J. (2010). Cengage Advantage Books: Business Law Today: The

Essentials. Ohio: Cengage brain.

Twomey, D. (2009). Labor & employment Law: Texts & Cases. Ohio: Cengage Brain.