Since the late 1800s, absent a contract specifying otherwise, an employment agreement generally has been regarded in the United States as being terminable at will by either employee or employer. In practice, the doctrine primarily inured to the benefit of the employer, who was able, according to one court, to discharge or retain employees with any or no cause. This extreme characterization began to erode shortly before the 1950s, although employment at will remains a viable doctrine and the basic law in a majority of the United States.

Several factors limit the reach of the employment at will doctrine. For example, in the public sector, most employees have a constitutionally protected right to notice and a hearing, embodied in civil service regulations, before they may be ...

  • Loading...
locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles