Sunday, May 22, 2005

Mises Institute on Employ-at-Will

Arthur Foulkes discusses why he believes that employers should be able to fire any employee at any time for any reason.

I mostly agree, but with a few exceptions:

I do think that assurances in employee handbooks ought to be considered contractual obligations if adherence to the employee handbook is written into the contract. Anything else is fraud on the part of the employer.

I also think that if a business fires someone on the basus that they refused to break a law (e.g. because they refused to lie ot the police), the employer should be brought up on charges relating to whatever law they wanted to break; for example, if they tell an employee he must perjure himself to keep his job, they should be charged with whatever the normal charges are for trying to get someone to commit perjury. Admittedly, in some cases this might be hard to prosecute; if the employer can deny that he knew what the employee was doing was illegal; e.g. in the case above, assume that the employee was lying about an illegal action that he himself did; the employer might claim he fired the employee for doing something wrong rather than for admitting he did something wrong, he assumed htat what he told the employee to say was true, because he had assumed htat the employee hadn't performed an illegal action. As for jury duty, however, my feeling is that the government shouldn't force people to serve on a jury (13th amendment, you know, and htere must be 12 willing people out there somewhere), so this shouldn't be an issue.

In any case, firing someone should not be done in a way that contradicts explicit provisions of the employment contract; if the employer contractualy agrees not to fire the employee except under certain circumstances, he must be held to that; anything else is fraud.

UPDATE: Mr. Foulkes agrees with me on explicit contracts.

That is all.

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