Employment at Will – The Offensive Legislation
By Todd Martin Miller
Weaverville, North Carolina
November 5, 2013
“The term "Employment-at-Will" simply means that unless there is a specific law to protect employees or there is an employment contract providing otherwise, then an employer can treat its employees as it sees fit (including the assignment of demeaning tasks) and the employer can discharge an employee at the will of the employer for any reason or no reason at all. It is also up to each employer to decide if its employees may see their own personnel file or not.”
--- North Carolina Commissioner of Labor Cherie Berry (2013, NCDOL website)
“(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”
--- United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 23)
Employment at Will is the law in North Carolina and many other states, and as the law, it does not require reasoning, justification, explanation, a right to work, just and favorable conditions of employment, protection against unemployment, or respect for the employee or the employer. There must be justice in an employment law, but this law is protection for those who break the universal concept of human right for the sake of inordinate profit in the possession of a few. There must be reasonable standards for employees and employers to negotiate contracts of employment, and they should be where Employment at Will law is today in the state statutes. An employee has a right to terms of a contract that recognize it has a right to work, clauses that describe the just and favorable conditions of that work, protection against unemployment, just and favorable remuneration, and the social protections the employee is entitled to have. There also need to be consequences for violating the employment contract, and violations of it need to be enumerated in the employment contract. Work is a major part of an adult’s life and it should not be dictated from God’s mercy or the mercy of the employer or the ignorance of the employer or the employee.
Employment at Will means all of our employment rights arise from the contract between the employer and employee signed at the time of hire, but in the absence of just employment statutes, those rights do not necessarily exist. Employment should be for a definite term, either temporary or permanent, but not subject to the undisclosed discrimination of employers and their employees assigned to make those decisions. There is no need to describe the obligations of the employees in this document, Employment at Will shows precedent that they will agree to anything, as they have for two centuries, nearly half of those centuries coexisting with slavery. The entitlement to be an employer is not in the constitution; that is why employment is based on a contract between the employee and the employer. Yet, the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights, which the United States of America signed, and which Cuba, South Africa, and the United States are the only large nations not to have ratified, states:
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right.
2. The steps to be taken by a State Party to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include technical and vocational guidance and training programs, policies and techniques to achieve steady economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment under conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual.
Therefore, we are morally obligated to regulate employment through our state governments, and article 7 (c) of the same covenant states:
Equal opportunity for everyone (is) to be promoted in his employment to an appropriate higher level, subject to no considerations other than those of seniority and competence.
Employment at Will legislation does not conform to fact, reason, truth or correctness. Employment at Will legislation is only fitting for a society of illiterate fools. How an intelligent people could let Employment at Will law exist while most of the members of society have a common interest in their own employment is unknown; perhaps the United States of America had it so good when the other half of the world was destroyed after world war II that its citizens neglected their duties to each other and left that atrocious law in place. Employment at Will supports a plutocracy wherein the wealthy decide when citizens will have jobs, and what the laws will be governing employment, and ensure that the wealthy remain wealthy. Citizens living under this plutocracy (rule by the wealthy) are encouraged to emulate the wealthy classes by believing it is wiser to think primitively and instinctively and not to behave as the naïve advocates of human rights who apply philosophy, reason, justice and logic to law and society. Some dispute that this is a plutocracy by claiming it is a meritocracy, social rule by an elite group of citizens who the government represents and whose claim to decide the law is based on merit or ability. Yet their ability has been directly proportional to their wealth, and their wealth is disproportionate to the quality of the laws of employment. The pitiful nonsense and the little legislation we have concerning employment concerns itself only with discrimination of a very limited list of terms (age, race, gender, etc.), when God Almighty himself demands that nobody be deprived of their rights for any reason. Woe unto the legislators that expect us to wait hundreds of years while they exercise and name every means of prejudice and discrimination at their disposal to put them into the law eventually.
In 2005, the year the bankruptcy law was rewritten, the legislators could easily have regulated employment to ensure protection against unemployment. Instead, they further stigmatized the victims of unemployment, (who can not afford to employ themselves), as non-taxpayers, and entitlement seekers; they projected their own hiring injustices as if corporations seeking the entitlement to employ those who they disenfranchised through the at will employment law with whatever means they saw fit, namely to bankrupt and unemploy them to force them to work as they demand. The law of the jungle, codified by the plutocracy, wherein someone can still be terminated at will for their political beliefs, where a customer can be required to pay a higher price for the same beverage for belonging to a particular political party, is remarkable in that not only can someone be fired or not hired for having a political belief, they can be not hired, not promoted, and fired for not supporting an employer’s political beliefs. Their critics they characterized as parasites “… who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it”[i] in the last election. They can do the same with any distinction not explicit in the law, and in criminal causes, any in the law that cannot be proven in court for lack of evidence, lack of resources, or lack of confidence. It is outrageous that they use the will of the people to support legislation and then call those whose will it is un-entitled! As insulting is the trickery that defects employment rights using the slogan “right to work” as an anti-union message.
The human rights covenant states that promotion, and presumably hiring, should only be affected by seniority and competence, easily interpreted as first come first hired among those qualified, but that is not the way of the capitalist profiteering plutocrats and their hired lackeys. Those pirates of the United States employment market even go so far as to terminate their workers so they can hire item back at an entry level wage. With the support of the shareholders they not only prevent such as those who have been fired for bad reasons from keeping what they have earned, they prevent them from working anywhere else; also not prevented by the employment law. The law permits not being responsible to citizens of the United States by, for example, hiring some from another continent to open your business to a new market, to increase your chances of success in your enterprise and hire an employee who has to be grateful for his or her job until they get citizenship; an inside man in the expansion of your business into the global economy while completely abusing the citizens of the nation that permitted the business to exist in the beginning through the will of its people.
So many distinctions are still legal to discriminate with against or for those in accordance with your own prejudices, and there is not a legal statute or precedent that common citizens are aware of to take to a prosecutor to combat it. The thought crime status of those statutes that do exists to prevent wrong in employment make them almost impossible to enforce, for what idiot would actually tell someone the illegal reason they were terminated when no reason at all would suffice? The constitution is justified by international human rights to assure human rights to the citizens of the nation where it is used to make the laws, but the plutocrats insist it is wiser to accept that people are corrupt at heart and will follow their instincts, they put preservation of themselves and others who look like them in front of their reasons and the same criminal mentality that believes it is not a crime if you get away with it, only if you get caught, funds the campaigns of those who ensure that the laws protect the morally guilty by making it so difficult to prove wrongdoing . The current law does not protect everyone equally, no discrimination using race, religion, disability, skin color, gender, or national origin, is a limited set of distinctions designed by compromise, fought vigorously by the plutocrats against the public while protection against discrimination by political opinion, social origin, marital status, sexual orientation, property and other distinctions are not mentioned at all, as if citizens are unaware of the International and Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Thinking of the unregulated hiring process as something that can be improved is easily discouraged; to prove such discrimination occurred is so difficult that statistics have to be used to prove it unless someone fails to hide it by saying it or writing it where someone else who recognizes it as wrong can witness it, and requiring them to risk their livelihood tell the truth, their very right to employment, where they spend their days, easily snatched away from the for bad reason or no reason at all. The common excuse to those whose numbers fail to meet the requirements of statistical confidence is that it was unconscious behavior, perhaps God must have done it in his infinite wisdom, and they elude to this with a faith based initiatives of the same ilk: conform your religious opinion to ours or risk not eating, not being healthy, and sleeping under a bridge, being arrested, and perhaps being forced take medication in a mental institution for the rest of your life, but assuredly being unemployed.
Hiring directed by self-interest naturally invokes discrimination by employers and discourages applicants from applying. Having a president who is not willing to pretend he represents the people, but is rather a Chief Executive, is better than having a president demanding all the blame for the wrongs committed by his interest groups, a vicarious atoner ready to sacrifice the office of the presidency in four or eight years without a fight, metaphorically on the cross.Instead of pursing a presidential dictatorship as was done by the wealthy plutocrats of the past, we should use our legislative represenatives to correct Employment at Will law.
[i] Mitt Romney, Video from a Political Fund Raiser at Mark Leder’s home, May 17, 2012, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/secret-video-romney-private-fundraiser.