Sample Law Paper on Employment-At-Will Doctrine

Employment-At-Will Doctrine

The employment at will doctrine presumes that employment is for an indefinite duration and thus, either the employers or employees can terminate it. Most of courts of laws have used the approach to interpret most of employment connections. Union to fight for equal bargaining power with the employers has used the concept.  Recently,  most states in United States have  abandoned then use of at-will doctrine in order to promote the rights of employees  at work   in terms of tort, contract and property principles. The terms of at-will can be modified through contractual agreements. For instance, a contractual agreement may specific conditions that warrants for termination for cause only. Most firms in the U.S usually negotiate employment agreements with senior employees (Harcourt, Hannay, & Lam, 2013). Some of the general causes that would lead to termination include employee misconducts and poor performance among others.

Common law has came out to provide for various exceptions to the at will doctrine in order to reduce the adverse consequences. The three main common laws exceptions are implied contracts, public policy, and the implied contract of good faith. Even though at-will presumption could be strong, the employee might find it difficult to proof that their cases fall under the exceptions.  Public policy is a common acceptable exception that protects he employees from unacceptable employment acidities that contravenes public interests.  However, some courts of law to do not recognize the formation of separate public policies relevant for statutory remedies. The implied contracts are recognized by 41 states in the United States. The implied contracts can be created through oral assurance or may be written (Crane, 2011). The courts also ignore the aspects of long term or permanent jobs as situation of at-will employment. The implied agreement of good faith supports the implied agreements for good dealing in the employment contracts.  Judicial interpretation may vary from the different terminations to obtain the real cause.

One of the cases is of Joe suing the company for invasion of privacy. I would not fire Joe as he has the right to privacy. The company is not entitled to violate the fundamental rights of privacy of Joe.  The at-will presumption does not cover certain cases and thus, the employer has not right to fire Joe for seeking for his rights. Even the exceptions, they do not prohibit an employee from taking legal redress incase of violation of his rights (St Antoine, 2013). This places the company in a tough situation as Joe indicates that he does not support the policies and operations of the organization. In spite of all, the company cannot fire Joe from his position.

From the case of John, he does a wrong thing criticizing the company’s most important customer on his facebook page.  Since, the company does not allow whistle blowing among its employees. I believe the company can fire John for his actions.  John has contravened the exception of implied contracts of good faith and dealing.  After publicly criticizing a customer, it implies that John was been rude and uncaring on the consequences to the company. Thus, the manager can fire John with immediate effect as implied in the at will presumption.  Therefore, the employees must act in good faith to avoid any terminations.

In the case of Anna who is absent without permission after her boss refused to sign her leave request, she cannot be fired from the work. Anna had passed her request to the relevant individuals. It indicates her focus and respect for the management.  Anna had a reasonable argument of leaving for jury duty.  It is understandable that jury duties must be attended. Thus, the boss has no any provisions supporting his actions.  The exceptions of employment at-will doctrine do not support the firing of Anna for absence with a good reason. Anna cannot be fired from her work due to their due diligence on informing the boss of his compulsory jury duty.


The various employees have adverse consequences to the performance and operations of the company. I would take various primary actions to limit the liability and adverse effects on the company’s operations. First, I would respond the issues being raised the by employees in order to show the company’s cooperation and understanding. In the case of invasion of privacy, the company should offer a formal statement on the situation. It would also be relevant to negotiate with the affected employees to minimize the losses of profits from the breakdown of the operations. Such practice would help in limiting the liability and impacts to the overall operations of the company.

Care ethics is an ethical theory that supports the formation of strong relationships, dealing with vulnerabilities, and empathy.  The Care ethics theory would be appropriate in handling the vulnerabilities caused by uncaring employees. It would lead to the termination of employees who have bad behaviors. On the other hand, it supports the creation of good relationships for employees who are loyal and act according to the company regulations. For instance, Joe acted with the law to sue the company for invasion of privacy.  Therefore, the care ethics suggests the relevant ethical concepts and frameworks that promote good cooperation and relationships among different persons.

Maryland is a state that operates under the at-will presumption of employment contractual agreements.  Such a condition presumes that employees or employers are free to end the employment relationship at any time in Maryland.  The Maryland courts have developed clear and specific instances that must be contained in the employment contractual agreements. Maryland policy on employment at will provides that employees work at the discretion of their employers. This indicates the absence of contractual agreements or expressed contracts would result to an employee being fired for any reason (St Antoine, 2013). However, Maryland policy has exception protecting employees from unacceptable discrimination. It suggests that person would be not discriminated against their race, color, age, and marital status among others.

A real-world example of James who was working for Aluminum Sales as a marketing representative. The employee was that the first told that he would be three months probation subject to employment at-will policy of the managers.  Performance appraisals were also used in determining the performance of employees. James completed the probation favorably. Later, the employer under the employment at will provisions terminated James.  James went to court won the case for close to $400,000. The main issue raised in the example is legality of the company terminating James. Based on the contractual agreements, James was only terminable using the probable causes such as failure to complete work in time. The real example is appropriate in understanding the nature and applicability of the employment at will doctrine. The expected outcomes would not affect any exceptions of at-will doctrine provisions.







Crane, C. (2011). Social networking v. the employment-at-will doctrine: A potential defense for employees fired for facebooking, terminated for twittering, booted for blogging, and sacked for social networking. Wash. UL Rev., 89, 639.

Harcourt, M., Hannay, M., & Lam, H. (2013). Distributive justice, employment-at-will and just-cause dismissal. Journal of business ethics, 115(2), 311-325.

St Antoine, T. J. (2013). At-will employment: An overview. Journal of the National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary, 9(1), 5.