Employment-at-will is a doctrine that is followed by most states in the country. Many states allow exceptions such as public policy and work contracts (Media Law Resource Center, 2010). Florida does not allow these exceptions, but employees can approach the court of law based on the provisions of anti-discrimination and labor laws.
The doctrine of employment-at-will allows an employer or employee, parties to the contract, to end the employment contract. The employer can decide to terminate the contract with the employee. At the same time, one can end a contract within legal limits. In most states, the rights of employees are protected by exceptions such as public policy and work contracts (Media Law Resource Center, 2010).
In Florida, these exceptions are not recognized, and consequently, employees suffer in the case of termination of the contract by the employer. This system also suggests that the law favors the employer. In this situation, employees need to consult legal counsel before agreeing with the employer. The contract can comprise a clause suggesting that either of the two parties cannot terminate the contract without giving a proper reason. An employer cannot abuse this doctrine by violating federal and state laws relating to discrimination and the illegal expulsion of the employee (Media Law Resource Center, 2010).
An employee cannot be dismissed as a reaction to his or her actions in the organization. This statement implies that the employer cannot expel an employee for revealing illegal and unethical activities taking place in the organization. The employer has the right to expel employees for a breach of contract (Media Law Resource Center, 2010).
The employer needs to follow the rules about employee recruitment and training. The employer has the responsibility of following legal hiring procedures. After giving employment, it is the responsibility of employers to provide training to the employee. The organization needs to follow retention rules specified by the federal and state laws (Media Law Resource Center, 2010).
Based on the above law applicable to Florida, one can study various scenarios. In the first scenario, Bill has been using his company-issued BlackBerry to run his own business on the side. In the second scenario, the supervisor recommends the dismissal of an efficient employee. The employee, in this scenario, challenged the suggestion of the boss to indulge in fraud. In the third scenario, the boss refused to sanction jury duty to the employee. The boss proposes to dismiss the employee on the ground of leave without absence.
The Chief Operating Officer (COO) needs to evaluate various rules and conventions relating to the doctrine of employment-at-will, and take the most appropriate decision. It is pertinent to note that, unlike many other states, Florida does not accept various exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine.
In this situation, the contract between employer and employee becomes important. Courts decide cases based on the contract document. Employer, at the same time, needs to follow federal and state labor laws. For example, it is not possible to dismiss an employee who is deemed as a whistleblower. The employer cannot discriminate against employees based on race, color, or religion.
In the first scenario, there is a need to analyze the contract between employer and employee. If the contract specifies that an employee cannot use an office facility for conducting one’s own business, then the COO is authorized to dismiss the employee. The employer needs to show that the employee is given the proper information concerning the policies of the organization concerning the side-business of the employee.
It is not possible to dismiss the employee in the second scenario, as she has refused to cooperate with the boss in filing false reports. In this case, the organization’s whistleblower policy becomes relevant. It is not possible to justify the dismissal of an employee in the third case. This is because refusal to grant leave for jury duty can be construed as a violation of labor law. The decision to expel the employee should be taken after studying the labor law of Florida.
The decision to discharge an employee should depend on the ethical theory of equality and fairness. There is an unequal relationship between employer and employee. The latter is the job seeker, and he or she is in an inferior position when compared to the employer. The worker cannot determine rules when entering into a contract. In many cases, contracts are also not signed between the two, and in such cases, the employer need not give reasons for expelling the person.
A corporation indeed aims to enhance its profit. In the process, it may unethically expel workers. Organizations can obtain new workers, but employees face problems in obtaining jobs (De George, 2011). The study of this ethical theory demonstrates that the employer should use the weapon of employee expulsion to deal with inefficient and indolent employees. The employer should provide an opportunity for the employee to retain his or her job in the organization (De George, 2011).
The action of the COO may have pertinent legal and ethical implications. For example, in the first scenario, the employer can justify one’s action, but in the second and third scenarios, appropriate care should be taken to ensure that legal provisions are not violated.
A real-world scenario could be used to further explain the employment-at-will doctrine in the context of Florida. In 2013, Chris Brennan, an employee of a Water Taxi organization, was dismissed for posting on youtube regarding the plan of a developer to shift a large tree near New River. The employer justified the decision based on the argument that Brennan was an employee-at-will and he could be dismissed without giving a valid reason.
The organization suggested that the employee is not authorized to air his personal views while working for the organization (Wallman & Sentinel, 2013). The case shows that individual freedom of expression is not protected. At the same time, collective freedom of expression is safeguarded.
For example, an employee can voice one’s grievances concerning problems in the workplace along with other workers. The case also shows that the employee had alerted the community regarding a possible unethical activity of the organization. In this case, a whistleblower policy should be initiated. Brennan refused to withdraw the video; he had to face the wrath of the employer (Wallman & Sentinel, 2013).
As Florida allows employment-at-will, employees need to be cautious concerning their actions. They need to consult a legal counsel before entering into a contract with the employer. The employer needs to be aware of the legal and ethical implications of his or her actions including the discharge of an employee.
De George, R. T. (2011). Business ethics (7th ed.). New Delhi, India: Pearson India.
Media Law Resource Center. (2010). Employment libel and privacy law 2010. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Wallman, B., & Sentinel, S. (2013). Rain tree supporter fired over youtube video. Web.