Workplace Law

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Examine the concept of “employment at will” and the public policy exceptions to it. How does it fit with the issue of “wrongful discharge?”

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“Employment at will” is a concept that gives employees and employers the freedom to terminate employment at any time without any specific reason. As mentioned in this week 6 lecture, some people forget that every employee is at will to terminate their employment at any given time, the employer does not have complete control in termination. It is also mentioned that “ Employers must generally show cause for termination for poor performance” (GCU Lecture, 2010). That being said, questioning a manager or the human resources department for a reason for termination may be beneficial to an employee. The employee also has the right to know the reason for termination, whether it be performance or a budget cut, etc. In my work place we have constant turnover. I constantly see emails from our HR department stating “xyz” will be leaving Panorama in “x” amount of days ( usually a 2 week notice). Other times, I see “xyz” will be leaving Panorama on January 6th, his/her last is January 6th. The common assumption by my colleagues is that that person was fired that same day, no one ever stops to think that maybe that employee left on their on will and terminated themselves.

Public Policies are meant to protect employees from being terminated. An employee can not be terminated for reporting unlawful actions or abuse, in fact employees are responsible to report such actions. There are also whistleblower laws that “protect employees if they disclose wrongdoing in the organization to a public entity or to someone with enforcement authority” (GCU Lecture, 2010). However, proper documentation and evidence needs to be available to protect the employee who is reporting.

“Wrongful discharge” is a public policy that requires evidence that an “action the employee took that upset the employer or its representatives” (GCU Lecture, 2010). In correlation, with “employment at will”, an employer must provide “cause” or reasoning for termination. In this weeks lecture, the example of an employee reporting harassment on the job from a supervisor and then being fired days later is unethical. The supervisor needs to provide logged examples of bad behavior, poor performance, etc to support the termination. Most workplaces have a write up policy in which when there is an issue like this the supervisor and employee are supposed to discuss the issue, come up with a solution, have it be documented, and the employee is given a written or verbal warning. Typically, places run off a 3 strike your out policy, but again employers are at will to terminate without given reason. I recently had a similar issue in my workplace, where I wanted to report actions of my supervisor and comment how I am constantly verbally attacked. However, I couldn’t have this conversation with my manager, I need to report it to the HR department. I am still do this day logging actions with dates and times to report to the HR department.


Grand Canyon University (2010). Employment at Will Lecture. Retrieved from ;

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Last Updated on June 10, 2019 by EssayPro