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Wrongful Discharge &

 Discipline
 Layoffs
• Survivors

 Lifetime employment
Discharge Process

 When an employee files a lawsuit, the

employer loses.

 Merits are not as important as the

way wrongful discharge happened.
Employment at Will
 An employee can be dismissed for:

• A good cause
• No cause
• A cause morally wrong

 U.S. is the only industrialized country

not to have comprehensive protection
against wrongful discharge.
Employment at Will
 Exceptions to employment at will
 Statutes
Public Policy:
1. Refusing to commit
2. act
3. Exercising a legal right or
performing a legal duty
Employment at Will
 Implied contract
 Breach of good faith and fair dealing

 Constructive discharge
 Preventing constructive discharge:

• Common-law wrongful discharge

• Why not a uniform “just cause”
doctrine for determination?
Preventing Wrongful

 Language in a job application

 Audit interviewing and performance

appraisal procedures
 Language in job offer letter and policy
 Privacy Act (1974)
• Files – required legally (COBRA, CRA91)
• A good policy to keep records (HRIS)
 Employees may see files and insert rebuttal
information (Washington)

 Search and Seizure

• Expectation is the issue
 Electronic surveillance
 Polygraph
• Prohibited in most cases
• Exceptions include: public sector,
ongoing investigation
Drug Testing
 Public
• Drug-free Workplace Act: applies to
federal agencies and some industries
 Private
• Alaska
• California
• Utah
• Rhode Island
• Minnesota
 Defamation is a common basis for suit

 Qualified Privilege Doctrine:

• Based on court indication that public
good is best served by free exchange of
 Requirements:
• Information given in good faith
• Limited to inquiry
• Given at proper time and manner
• Given to proper parties
• True and related to job requirements
• Revealed without malice and bad faith

1. Firm, unambiguous policy

2. Response team

3. Training to recognize potential