Employment-at-Will,EmployeeRights,andFutureDirections...

Employment-at-Will,EmployeeRights,andFutureDirections... -...

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EMPLOYMENT-AT-WILL, EMPLOYEE RIGHTS, AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR EMPLOYMENT Tara J. Radin and Patricia H. Werhane Abstract: During recent years, the principle and practice of employ- ment-at-wlll have been under attack. White progress has been made in eroding the practice, the principle still governs the philosophical assumptions underlying employment practices in the United States, and, indeed, EAW has been promulgated as one of the ways to ad- dress economic ills in other countries. This paper will briefly review the major critiques of EAW. Given the failure of these arguments to erode the underpinnings of EAW, we shall suggest new avenues for approaching employment issues to achieve the desirable goal of em- ployee dignity and respect P rivate employment m the United States has traditionally been governed by "emptoyment-at-will" (EAW), which provides for minimal regutation of em- ployment practices. It allows either the employer or the employee to terminate their employment relationship at any time for virtually any reason or for no reason at all. At least 55% of all employees and managers in the private sector of the workforce in the United States today are "at-will" employees. During recent years, the principle and practice of employment-at-will have been under attack. While progress has heen made in eroding the practice, the principle still governs the philosophical assumptions underlying employment practices in the United States, and. indeed, EAW has been promulgated as one of the ways to address economic ills in other countries. In what follows, we will briefly review the major critiques of EAW. Given the failure of these arguments to erode the underpinnings of EAW. we shall suggest new avenues for approaching employment issues to achieve the desirable end of employee dignity and respect. Critiqu es of EA W Attacks have been levied against EAW on numerous fronts for generations. White it remains the default rule for the American workplace, a variety of argu- ments have been made that employees should not be treated "at will."' Most of these arguments fall within two broad categories: those that relate to rights and those that relate to fairness. © 2003. Business Ethics Quarterly. Volume 13. Issue 2. ISSN 1052-150X pp. 113-130 This document is authorized for use by Robert Fleishman , from 10/19/2010 to 1/19/2011, in the course: Any unauthorized use or reproduction of this document is strictly prohibited.
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114 BUSINESS ETHICS QUARTERLY Rights Talk The first set of arguments critiquing the prineiple of EAW is grounded on a eommonly held theory of moral rights, that is, the claim that human beings have moral claims to a set of basic rights vis-a-vis their being human. This set of arguments makes three points. First, principles governing employment praetiees that interfere with commonly guaranteed political rights, such as free speech (including legitimate whistle blowing), privacy, due process, and democratic
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This note was uploaded on 11/29/2010 for the course CHIN 3111 taught by Professor Chaves during the Spring '10 term at GWU.

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Employment-at-Will,EmployeeRights,andFutureDirections... -...

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