At-Will Employment: The Arc of Justice Bends Towards the Doctrine's Rejection

Source: Donald C. Carroll, University of San Francisco Law Review, Winter 2012
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Dr. Martin Luther King was confident that the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice. The history of the at-will doctrine in employment law is an example of this arc, as the nationwide jurisprudence moves away from the doctrine and towards a more just social compact. This Article argues that the at-will doctrine is immoral and that it is time for the common law to reject it.

Part I examines the historical nature and the roots of the at-will doctrine, as many articles before have done. Part II looks at the economic and contractual foundation of the at-will doctrine. Part III describes the exceptions to the at-will doctrine, which demonstrate the movement towards its rejection. This movement has resulted from the recognition of the at-will doctrine’s moral weakness. Part IV examines the immorality of the remaining vestiges of the doctrine. Part V demonstrates the ability of the common law to eliminate this doctrine.

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