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Abstract

Traditional concepts concerning the law regarding employment relationships of an indefinite duration have been the object of much criticism in recent years. The source of this controversy stems from the application of the so-called employment-at-will rule which provides that employment relationships of this nature may be terminated by either party at any time with or without notice or cause. The at-will rule, however, is not about to be abandoned. The overwhelming majority of jurisdictions continue to adhere to the view that employment relationships of an indefinite duration may be terminated at any time without notice "for good cause, for no cause, or even for cause morally wrong . . . ." Even those jurisdictions which have recognized exceptions to the at-will rule are limiting the application of those exceptions to clearly articulated public policy as expressed in federal or state law. Courts have also examined the effect of statements of personnel policy, whether oral or written, on an employer's ability to discharge at-will employees. This article discusses the various approaches of law regarding at-will employment relationships. The rationale for the employment-at-will rule, its exceptions and recent limitations on these exceptions are examined. In addition, this Article analyzes the effect of personnel policies on the at-will rule, and reviews the law concerning employee rights to personnel benefits. Finally, this Article proposes the adoption of a uniform approach to recognizing public policy exceptions to the at-will rule.

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