Over the years, there has been much debate over the classification of “employment-at-will” employees. Employment-at-will is a term that refers to the protection that is applied to the employment relationship, wherein the employer or the employee has the right to terminate the employment relationship at any time. There are exceptions to this doctrine.
Elora Jean & Co. is experiencing tremendous growth both in its production division as well as its two nonunion satellite offices. As the human resources (HR) legal consultant, you are concerned with the manner in which union and nonunion employees are terminated. You want to ensure that the company understands the rights that it has to terminate an employment relationship. You also want to be sure Elora Jean & Co. is aware of the protection laws surrounding employment termination.
An additional challenge is associated with the union environment. In particular, the union contract requires employees to be terminated only for “just-cause” reasons. Briefly discuss what is meant by just cause. Briefly expand on the definition of employment-at-will, and discuss the exceptions to this doctrine. With these issues in mind, what recommendations would you offer to Elora Jean & Co. to help position them for terminations that will not present legal risk yet enable the company to terminate employees who are not contributing to the success of the organization? What process will the company need to follow, and how can they be prepared to support the termination decision?