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The Employment at Will Doctrine

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States that have adopted this standard as a way of attracting businesses, have managed to do so without an outcry by the vast majority of voters, employees. After all, why should there be an objection? It sounds so fair and evenhanded on the surface. If you, the employee, no longer want to remain in your position, you simply move on after giving appropriate notice. No reason need be given, though you’ll no doubt be asked and will probably offer the least offensive one you can muster.

So, doesn’t it follow that your employer should have that same right? If he or she decides one day they no longer want you around, shouldn’t they have the option of sending you out into that big world with all its opportunity? Of course there are limits imposed by law on the reasons they can sever the relationship. These concern race, religion and various factors that are not appropriate cause for dismissal. But outside of these considerations, you are completely subject to the whims of your employer. Maybe you’ve decided to leave your job on a whim. Once again, seems so fair, no wonder the subject gains little attention.

Now maybe you and your boss didn’t get along very well. You’ve been drilled to keep those matters to yourself when you interview with prospective employers. This process reinforces to all employers that as a group they’re simply wonderful. No one ever has a complaint against any of them.

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But surely, even if you weren’t well liked by the boss, he or she will restrict their comments to potential employers to job title, dates of employment, maybe salary history. Now this shouldn’t be too damaging. Of course, if it’s a good job you’re going after, you’ll be competing with others who were on much better terms with their bosses. These individuals are probably going to get accolades that make your dates of employment and the like seem like a barrage of 4 letter words.

Bosses who are more daring and determined to make your life a bit harder, can offer negative feedback on your performance. It must be true and subject to verification. If the boss has it in for you, this can be accomplished very easily, as anyone who has ever seen a scapegoat taken down in an organization can attest. And of course, there’s the clincher, a negative response to the question of whether the person is eligible for rehire. If the answer is no, don’t bother pressing your suit for the second interview.

You may choose to criticize the organization every chance you get among friends and strangers, but that won’t stem the tide of applicants whenever they advertise a position. Your future is in their hands, not vice versa. And even with the scale tipped so decisively in favor of the employer, there are state legislatures attempting to make it easier for them to divulge more about you without any recourse on your part.

So, does the Employment-at-Will Doctrine create the balance between employer and employee that it seems to on the surface? No. It does bring businesses to your state though, ensuring as it does a docile workforce. Docile and insecure, for when you can be dismissed for any reason, your family and you have no reason to feel secure.

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