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Over the years, this basic legal doctrine of employment at will has been reinforced again and again in subsequent cases. In the case of Mary and Little Lamb Company, employer-employee relationship has been limited substantially by a number of laws and other court rulings. These legal tweaking has given Mary more protections from being fired if the reason is legally suspect. For example, specific laws now make firings illegal if they are based on discrimination due to the worker’s race, skin color, age, gender—which broadly includes sexual harassment, religious beliefs, national origin, disability or pregnancy.

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In Mary’s case, she was fired because of economic conditions. She was a clear employee of Little Lamb Company having been able to render her services to the company for almost a couple of years by the time the laying off occurred. Furthermore, court decisions have held that it may also be illegal to fire a worker if he or she can prove that would violate written or oral contract between the employee and the employer, abridgement of duty of fairness, and deterrence of clear public policy.

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Such limitation on employment at will make the doctrine less vague, especially in the enforcement of freedom on the part of Little Lamb Company to dismiss Mary. If there is an existing contract between the Little Lamb and Mary, the former cannot easily fired the latter, especially if the company’s reason is based on egoistic volition because the company must provide necessary documents to validate such dismissal.

The existence of contract also ensure the enforcement of duty of fairness because this will be the ultimate manifesto and protection of Mary in the face of dismissal, since the mere presentation of contract or recitation of specific precepts of the contract can absolve the employee in case of dismissal, in which the employer must consult and follow accordingly in the essence of fairness. Every contract axioms must be in accordance to legal statutes, hence, employers who adopt employment at will doctrine must know exactly what public policies it should incorporate in the contract, and what legal axioms need not be included in the contract.

On the other hand, such freedom in doctrine is still not definitive because the lack of union and contract dissolves the concept of freedom, thus making employer power tripping admissible. Employment at will without contract is gives a new definition of freedom in favor the employer, which can led to unreasonable firing of employee, and even to the point of wage discrimination. However, in essence, Little Lamb Company can dispose employees even if such disposal is morally impermissible. Thus, freedom in employment at will is not only vague, it is also arbitrary, and in some sense pragmatic in the perception of the employer.

Such arbitrariness in freedom can be seen in the lack of contract, which can lead to the dissolution of duty fairness, and an outright negligence of public policy. First, full-fledged employment contracts are scarce—traditionally reserved for uppermost company executives and other notables such as professional athletes. But an increasing number of employers like Little Lamb Company in highly competitive businesses such as Internet startups negotiate and sign detailed contracts with some or all of their upper-echelon employees—contracts setting out the specific terms of their employment, including salary, stock options and relocation rights.

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Kylie Garcia

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