Recent decades have witnessed significant developments in employment termination law in the United States. In particular, the long-standing “at-will” doctrine, under which employers can fire employees for good, bad, or no reason at all, has experienced great erosion and wide variations in law from state to state. There has been a movement of statutory and common law restrictions limiting an employer’s freedom to terminate at will, which reflects the increasing consciousness of job security by society and workers. This paper analyzes the problem of job security by tracing the origin of the at-will doctrine to 19th century principles favoring economic individualism and formalistic interpretation of contracts, and by examining the doctrinal basis for the at-will rule in light of modern tort and contract principles. Finally, this paper contends that total abolition of at-will employment by unjust-dismissal legislation will ultimately be necessary for all employees to be fully protected against wrongful discharge.
Yokoyama, Mayumi, "Job Security: Protecting At-Will Employees with Good Cause Legislation" (1995). LLM Theses and Essays. 184.