Employment-at-Will: Expectations and Liabilities


The relationship between the employer and the employee is protected by various policies that govern the expectations and liabilities of both parties. The employers have always had a higher bargaining power against the employees, which implies that the employees are easily compelled to meet the needs of the employers. In contrast, the needs of the employees can be ignored for a long time. The laws that govern the relationships between the employees and the employers have been reinforced by the development of unions and other policies that protect the employees from unfair treatment by their employers. This paper looks into the employment-at-will doctrine.

Employment-at-Will Doctrine

The employment-at-will doctrine is a principle that presumes that the employment of human assets is an indefinite relationship that can be terminated by the employee or the employer. This doctrine facilitates a legal ground or the employee or the employer to terminate employment. Still, legal claims could arise if either of the parties ignored the law in the process of employment termination. The modern world has seen many companies facing legal claims for failing to meet their legal expectations and liabilities regarding the termination of employment (Bagenstos, 2013). The violation of the established employment laws attracts various liabilities, especially if the employer is the instigator of different violations of the employment policies.

Expectations and Liabilities

The current situation dictates that the company must develop an appropriate relationship with the associated employees. The relationship between the employees and the members of the leadership function has been affected by the lack of mutual respect between the parties. The employees have different issues that point to incompetency on the part of the employer. It is also apparent that the organization’s developments have been fostered by the lack of appropriate policies to govern the conduct of the employees (Stone & Arthurs, 2013). The company has the liability to meet the employees’ demands as stipulated by the employment law, and it should also facilitate a better working environment through the development of guidelines to compel the entire human asset base and the leadership functions to embrace utilitarian ethics.


One of the scenarios involves John’s open criticism of one of the company’s most important customers on his Facebook page. The company has no power to influence the sentiments held by the employees of the customers. Since John posted the criticism on his private Facebook account, it is not within the power of the company to punish him. The possible solution would be to negotiate with John to ensure that he understands that his actions may harm the company. The company needs to show the employees that their respective conduct in and out of the company affects the performance of the company.

The second scenario involves Ellen’s blog, that claims that her bosses are not competent. Like John’s case, the information is contained in a private platform that is associated with the freedom to express personal sentiments. Additionally, if it is true that the entire workforce has not been receiving pay raises, the company should look into rectifying the issue. The company should compel its employees to join a labor union that will forward their grievances directly to the company in the future, rather than the employees using other avenues to air their grievances (Stone & Arthurs, 2013).

Bill’s case involves the use of the company-issued phone to run his private business. It is apparent that the use of company resources for personal gain is highly unethical; hence, the company should make it clear that the employees must not use the organizational resources to meet their private interests. This requirement should be clearly outlined in the employment contract because it amounts to embezzlement of company resources, which can be used as a ground to terminate employment by the employer (Stone & Arthurs, 2013).

One of the department supervisors has asked for the authorization of the termination of employment for his secretary. Still, his ground for the termination is that she refused to prepare false financial reports.

Employers cannot terminate the employment contract if an employee refuses to engage in fraudulent business activities. The company should look into terminating the employment contract with the associated department supervisor because it is clear that his orientation regarding ethics is not aligned with the organization’s goals. All the decisions in the highlighted cases must be applied in line with the utilitarian ethics to ensure that the organization’s best interests are met. The company should be willing to motivate and satisfy the employees’ needs to enhance the development of mutual respect between human assets and employers (Stone & Arthurs, 2013).

This issue is based on the lack of adherence to a utilitarian approach at the workplace. Every employee, in this case, has failed to assume ethical conduct that is aimed at ensuring the best interests of the members of the company are upheld. From an organizational theory perspective, it is also apparent that the company needs to develop espoused values that govern employee behavior and streamline its behavior in a utilitarian manner.


Wal-Mart is among the companies that have been involved in numerous cases involving the violation of employment policies. In 2012, the company made headlines as whistleblowers in the company’s warehouses protested against the low and lost wages. The company retaliated by firing the protestors, but it was apparent that the move was a direct violation of the employment policies that protect the employees against malicious termination of employment (Kunichoff, 2012). The associated contractors violated the Wal-Mart ethical standards policies by terminating the employment contracts because of the protests, and Wal-Mart had to face the consequences regarding the legal claims.

Ben Farrell quit from Apple Inc. because of the pressure involved with working at the company. According to his account on the issue, Farrell has revealed that he used the employment-at-will doctrine to quit and that his main reasons for quitting are related to the working environment in the company. First, he cited the long working hours, followed by numerous meetings. He also claimed that the company had developed policies aimed at ensuring the employees suffer in silence (Cook, 2015). Following his move to quit, the company had no power to challenge the decision because the employment laws stipulate that an employee can quit whenever he or she wants if there are genuine reasons for the termination of employment.


The employment-at-will doctrine highlights the fact that the employee or the employer can terminate the employment contract if there is a reasonable factor influencing the decision. However, the employment law and other policies governing the relationship between the employer and the employees, provide guidelines for termination of employment contracts. Failure to follow the associated guidelines may attract legal claims against the employer or the employee. The employee-employer relationship must be maintained on a positive platform that facilitates effective communication and negotiations during conflicts.


Bagenstos, S. R. (2013). Employment Law and Social Equality. Michigan Law Review, 112(2), 13-002. Web.

Cook, J. (2015). A former Apple employee has written a brutal account of why he quit the company. Web.

Kunichoff, Y. (2012). Walmart Whistleblowers Stand Up to Retaliation. Web.

Stone, K. V., & Arthurs, H. (Eds.). (2013). Rethinking Workplace Regulation: Beyond the Standard Contract of Employment: Beyond the Standard Contract of Employment. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Web.