ORG 303 CT 4Option #1: Ethics of At-Will DoctrineAs mentioned in this chapter, the employment-at-will doctrine has been around for a very long time. It is based on English Common law of the eightteent

ORG 303 CT 4

Option #1


Ethics of At-Will Doctrine

As mentioned in this chapter, the employment-at-will doctrine has been around for a very long time. It is based on English Common law of the eightteenth century, which said that the length of employment was resumed to be for one yaer when there is work to be done and when there is not. A New York State tratise wirte, Horace Gay Wood, in his book

Mater and Servant

(1877), expanded on the doctrine, stating that a hiring with no definitie ending date is a hiring at will. That is, unless both master and servant agree that service was to extend for a specified time, it should be considered an indefinite hiring, and it is up to the servant, should he be terminated, to prove otherwise. From what was then called “Wood’s Rule” came the U.S. interpretation of employment law: an employer is free to discharge individuals at any time for cause or for no cause at all, and the employee is equally free to quit at any time for any reason.

Many debates have arisen over the years as to the fairness or ethics of such a doctrine. Critics have long featred that it gives to much power to businesses over the lives of their employees. To have such a rule that allows a company to fire even good employees whenever and for whatever reason is unfair and unethical. The doctrine provides little protection to employees who work hard and who work well. And there is little job security in an at-will company. Theretically, employees can be fired just because the supervisor may not like them or because of how they dress or look. An excuse often given to employees who are terminated “at-will” is, ” You just aren’t the right fit for this company.” Then there was a case where an armored truck driver was fired for leaving his post even though he only did so to save someone’s life (

Gardner v. Loomis Armored, Inc.,

April 4,1996).

Opponents say that from a business perspective, the doctrine provides little incentive for people to work hard, because, if employees can be terminated no matter how hard they work, what’s the benefit of putting in the extra effort? Motivation can even suffer if employees are working under “fear” of their jobs. Finally, because at-will employees are treated differently than “for just cause” employees, critics state taht it is unfair and unequal tremenat under the law, which violates the Fourteenth Amendment. Also, motivation can suffer when employees fear that they can beterminated at any time.

Supporters state that the doctrine provides equal fairness to both the employer and employee when it comes to terminiation of employement. They say it is only fair that if an employee can terminate employment at any time, then the employer should have the same right. They cite the limiations to the doctrine, outlined in this chapter, provide further protection to employees. Supporters further state that the doctrine is not totally free from lawsuits, as evidenced by the lawsuit filed and won by the defendata in the


case cited here. Addtionally, applicants dont have to work for or sign an employment at-will statement at the at-will company if they think the doctrine is unfair. They have the right to seek employment elsewhere.

Read the Focus on Ethics: The Ethics of the At-Will Doctrine in Chapter 7 of Industrial/Organizational Psychology.

Then, write a 2-4-page paper and select one of the two assignment options to accompany your paper:

  • Develop a 5-7 slide PowerPoint presentation that corresponds to your pape/

    I will handle the slides I just need assistance with the written paper portion.

Answer the following questions:

  • What are other ethical dilemmas in the at-will doctrine?
  • Which argument is credible: that of the doctrine’s critics or its supporters?
  • What limitations other than those outlined in the textbook should be imposed on the doctrine to make it more ethical and, therefore, fairer?
  • Evaluate the fairness of different laws for public and private sector employees (at-will employment versus just cause standards of employment).

Adhere to the following standards:

  • Your paper should be two to four pages in length, not including the title or reference pages.
  • Review the grading rubric, which can be accessed on the


    link for each week.
  • Be sure to follow the

    CSU-Global Guide to Writing and APA

  • Your paper should include an introduction, a body with at least two fully developed paragraphs, and a conclusion.
  • Support your interpretation with evidence from the book and at least two peer-reviewed journal articles from the library.
  • Your PowerPoint presentation should be 5-7 slides and include a reference list and citations. See the

    Example PPT Presentation

    in the Online Research and Writing Lab

  • Your audio or video presentation should be 10-15 minutes in length and be accompanied by speaker notes and a reference list of citations. Record your presentation with audio or video and upload to Schoology.

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