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The Big Book of HR, Revised and Updated Edition by Cornelia Gamlem, Barbara Mitchell

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3

The Legal Landscape of Employee Rights

“All may dismiss their employee(s) at will, be they many or few, for good cause, for no cause, or even for cause morally wrong, without thereby being guilty of legal wrong.”

Payne v. Western and Arkansas Railroad Company, 1894

Employment at Will

Since the last half of the 19th century, employment in the United States has been “at will,” or terminable by either the employer or employee for any reason whatsoever. The employment-at-will doctrine avows that, when an employee does not have a written employment contract and the term of employment is of indefinite duration, the employer can terminate the employee for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all.1 At the same time employees are free to leave the ...

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