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Employment at Will Term Paper


Employment at will – is the right of employers to fire employees for any reason and the right of employees to leave the company without any reason as well (Werhane 2003).  This is a two sided agreement giving both the employer and employee the same right. I think that employment at will involves several ethical issues. For example, employers are free to fire with no reason or even based on the unfair reason (in the eyes of the employee).  It raises such important issues as discrimination and unequal treatment of employees. Employment at will means that the employment is voluntary for both sides.

The Civil Rights Acts of 1964/1991 – prohibited any employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.  The act of 1991 has amended several sections to include the section on unlawful employment practices by employer (Werhane 2003). The Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991 have made employment discrimination not only unethical but illegal as well.  I think that such statute was vital because all people should be treated with respect and only based on their professional skills but not based on any other factors.

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – is the organization created with the aim to provide very single citizen with equal opportunity to be hired despite of the race, color, religion, sex or any other attribute (Kurtz 2002).  I think that the creation of such commission was vital for the development of modern ethical employment practices. However, encouraging employers to hire minorities, for example, limits employer’s freedom in their choice, however, the laws proposed by the commission are aimed at elimination of prejudicial treatment when people are treated not for their professional skills, as it should be, but based on some other factors they have no control over. The human dignity and respect are the key components of employment ethics.

Employment ethics has made me think the most.  Employment at will and the sections of Civil Rights Act of 1991 appear to be contradicting each other.  As every school of ethics, there is always some kind of contradiction present leaving it up to the individuals to decide what is good or bad, what is right or wrong.  For example promoting of employment at will when everybody has freedom to decide on the course of action (employers are free to hire and to fire any individual with or without the reason at any time, while employees are free to leave the company at any time for any reason as well) is perceived unfair by many employees who have been fired and make references to the Civil Rights Act as if their dismissal is discriminatory.  However, I do not a single case when the employer filed a case against employee who has left the company without explanations. People do change the places of work and nobody really pays attention to the fact that such behavior is highly unethical regarding the employer – the hired the person with the plans for long mutually beneficial cooperation, invested time and money into his/her training, provided opportunities for promotional growth and gave some degree of freedom of action.  One day employee decided that he does not want to work at this company any more and just leaves. What should employer feel like? Most of the employers do not hire people with the idea in mind that this employee will leave in a couple of months. Ethics has made me think not only about the feelings of employees who strive to have freedom in everything, but about the feelings of employers who should and are granted the right to fire employees without the cause just like employees care free to leave the company without the explanation.


Kurtz, D. (2002, August 9).  Fair Fight. National Review Online.  Retrieved January 20, 2006, from http://www.nationalreview.com/kurtz/kurtz080902.asp
Werhane, P. (2003).  Employment and Employee Rights (Fundamentals of Business Ethics). Blackwell Publishing.

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