Employment at Will – The Offensive Legislation
January 21, 2012
September 1, 2019
“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, North Carolina Department of Labor 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)
I postulate the end of Employment at Will as the law of the land in the United States. A right to employment and to do the work of it will preserve reasoning, justification, explanation, just and favorable conditions of employment, protection against unemployment, and respect for the employee and the employer. Legislation to make the right of employment law should become part of every employment contract, as At Will Employment law is now. It will accompany the fruit picker to whom a smile is permission to work and a dollar is dispensed for each bushel of fruit that is brought to the employer; that is all the understanding necessary for it to work, and its contract provides for the right of the fruit picker to leave the work at any time, just as At Will Employment does now. The same At Will Employment law governing the fruit picker’s employment also governs that of retail stores, the factories, and all businesses in between where an hourly wage instead of a fixed regular payment (salary) is the form of remuneration. The right to employment will bring the benefits that those being paid a salary have to the great number of persons and people now earning an hourly wage, and it will do so by law.
Capitalistic activity was originally defined as “the expectation of profit by the utilization of opportunities for exchange, that is on (formally) peaceful chances of profit”i , but the right to employment is more important than the right to a profit. In the United States we must purchase our human rights, so our right to employment will be a good path for us to obtain many of our other human rights. The greatest benefit of current “At Will Employment” legislation is in its prevention of the development of an economy where citizens are forced to work and cannot quit at will. At Will Employment, considered alone and by itself, within such circumstances as forced labor is an excellent principle to prevent forced labor, and so that principle too must be part of the right to employment. The right to employment also solves the problem described as: the United States is a plutocracy where the wealthy use the government as they do any other business tool or institution to create the expectation of a profit by implementing the lowest cost of bringing forth something to peacefully exchange for profit and they do so through poverty, so that they can create that state of affairs where citizens are forced to work, though from want instead brute force. I believe At Will Employment Law is nation wide in the United States; I intend more to suggest the state governments should require as a standard part of any employment contract clauses that describe the just and favorable conditions of work, protection against unemployment, just and favorable remuneration, and the social protections an employee has to have as part of the right to employment while still having his other human rights. There will and need to be consequences for violating the employment contract, and violations of it need to be enumerated in the employment contract, but with this in mind: The employee is a human being, the corporation a large body of human beings and a non-human being within the law where it may be considered a person, the right to quit at will or work at will being preserved for the human being and not for the corporation. 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, and so it will not be when the Right to Employment is law.
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights 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.
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 address those principles. It implicitly addresses the present superiority of a plutocratic system wherein the wealthy decide when citizens will have jobs, and what the laws or rules will be governing employment where the jobs are being done. The Right to Employment will put an end to the fact there is a right to make a enormous number of small profits for a tiny number of people by or for producing low cost material goods and in conjunction with that, there is a right to provide a larger per item profit to a large number of people who are able to set high prices on housing for the propertyless workers, and that being done by both groups to disenfranchise the propertyless workers to cause them to do more work for those two classes now holding those rights. By not being able to force the propertyless workers to live somewhere else than where they choose, primarily by eliminating jobs for economic reasons or at will rental rates, the Right to Employment law will penalize those who choose to do wrong for not considering seniority and competence in remuneration to the worker as is currently done to keep wages low and to prevent the accumulation of wealth and property so that the worker remains disenfranchised and forced to work more without being able to keep any significant part of their own remuneration.
It is more important to know that the lack of the legitimate and legislated right to employment gave rise to unjust terminations, business closures as job loss and uncontrolled housing and other costs. It is important because it is much more significant than the hiring of immigrants or illegal immigration where the law is being used today. The concept of Right and wrong will replace rich and poor. The wrongs currently in place, such as discrimination, being addressed one at a time, such as race, gender, color, etc., each with its years of debate prior to acceptance, are currently possible because so few have so much that when they perform a wrong they continue rather than are corrected or punished because they are wealthy enough to continue. With the Right to employment we shall find improvements in our work and the corporations we work for when right is rewarded and wrong is punished, as was long ago believed to be the way that capitalism worked to improve working conditions before the super wealthy acquired almost all of the business capital and made capitalism unfunctional. The United States once taught its children that the capitalistic system was the best economic system because if someone did a good thing in business that served the people well, they were rewarded with profits and if someone did something stupid in business that wasted what could have served the people well, they were punished with losses. People are workers, do not believe that a business can do good to serve the people well by serving its employees wrongly. Having learned of the evolution of capitalism since the new deal, we see the nation has developed the super rich or super wealthy to avoid the losses that capitalism requires of mistakes in a market exchange system, yet those losses still exist and have trickled down to the point where the propertyless worker is punished instead of the capitalist. The long term result is that the propertyless workers can not accumulate any wealth nor property, and are handing the major part of their pay check over to the wealthy before they receive it for goods and necessities they absolutely must have and know in advance that everyone must have.
In summary, perhaps “At Will” employment is not as offensive as it appears when it is the only employment the states offer. By itself, “At Will” is offensive as the title implies, but the one good thing it does should be a part of better employment law.
i Max Weber, “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”, Translated by Talcott Parsons, Routlege Classics, 1930