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Termination - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Termination
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  1. Termination • Employment-at-will • Payne v. Western and Atlantic RA Company (1884) • The Court confirmed the right of an employer to hire or fire any individual for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all

  2. Restrictions on Employment-at-Will • Civil Rights protections • Employment contracts, union or individual • Market forces • Whistleblower statutes • Threats of wrongful discharge suits

  3. Civil Rights Restrictions • Murphy v. American Home Products Corp (1983) • Age discrimination used to challenge at-will termination

  4. Violation of Public Policy • Employees may not be fired for exercising rights protected by law • Worker comp claims • Refusing to commit perjury • Absence for jury duty • Voting as stockholder Requires “clear and legal mandate” re public policy

  5. Whistleblowing Palmateer v. International Harvester (1981) • Employee was wrongfully discharged after reporting coworkers involved in crime Sheets v Teddy’s Frosted Foods (1980) • Employee was wrongfully discharged for insisting company comply with federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act

  6. Expressed or Implied Promise of Employment • Touissant v Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan (1980) • Employees had been wrongfully fired for no apparent reason, though the employer said “You can have your job as long as you do your job.” • Employer also had written policy requiring good cause, warnings, and a disciplinary hearing before discharge

  7. Good Faith and Fair Dealing • Fortune v. National Cash Register Company (1977) • NCR had fired long-term employee who was “at will”, but the employer sought to avoid paying large commission through the discharge, demonstrating bad faith Only 11 states recognize covenant-of-good-faith exception to employment at will

  8. Tortious Conduct • Tortious conduct – violation of a duty owed to others – variation on bad faith • Monge v. Beebe Rubber Company (1974) • Female employee was “abusively discharged” for refusing to date supervisor • Now that problem would be handled under Civil Rights sexual harassment protection

  9. Layoffs • Firefighters Local Union 1784 v. Stotts (1984) • Supreme Court Ruled a layoff illegal when more senior white employees were laid off while less senior black employees were retained – seniority is a legitimate basis for discharge • Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act • Complicated law affecting employees in facilities to be shut down

  10. Broad practice implications • Have written policy manual, reviewed by employee • Use positive employee relations approach • Know the legal context of your business operations • “Golden Rule” – do to others as you would have them do to you • Keep an excellent employment attorney on retainer