Select Page

Employment Law
Temple University School of Law
Angel, Marina

I.        Work and Law
A.     General trend in the law
1.      Most law was judge made common law until late 19th century
2.      Now we have statutes – most of which set of administrative agencies
3.      B/c there are basically no statutes that deal with at will employment, there is judge made common law in this area
B.     Questions to ask when determining rights of employees
1.      First, is the employee a public or private employee
a.      No rights unless public employee – may have DP and P&I rights
b.      If private, more questions to be asked
i.         Any civil rights statutes apply? Must be fired for that reason to apply
ii.       State statutes
iii.      Are you unionized?
iv.     If no union or contract, you basically have no rights
C.     “We are a nation of employees”
D.     Important things that we get out of a job
1.      Money to support yourself and dependents
2.      Benefits – specifically health
3.      Relationships among people you work with
4.      Experience
5.      Identity – sense of achievement and satisfaction
E.      Wagenseller v. Scottsdale Memorial Hospital (Ariz. 1985)
1.      P was a very good employee; she had been promoted (usually only done if do job well); but then she has some differences w/supervisor and gets fired
2.      Management’s reason for the firing would be she was unable to get along with others and as a result, her performance dropped
3.      This is a common scenario – good record and then all of a sudden it changes and fired
a.      Her point of view is it was b/c they got mad at her
b.      Employer’s point of view is she could not get along with others
4.      Notes and Questions
a.      Wood (commentator) always got the law he wrote wrong but his law became the law in the US anyway – at will employee can be fired for any reason
b.      Potential causes of action if you get fired
i.         Violation of contract or collective bargaining agreement or any other promise in writing (from employee handbook) – contract suits only get economic compensation
ii.       Discrimination under civil rights statute – firing must be due to that factor
iii.      Tort lawsuits – get compensatory and possibly punitive damages (therefore, plaintiff lawyers want to bring a tort action rather than a contract action)
(a)        Defamation
(b)        Intentional interference with contract
(c)        Against public policy
 
II.     The Development of Employment Law
A.     Introduction
1.      Working for someone establishes a relationship w/legal rights and obligations
2.      Relationship is not monolithic

employing child
(b)        Dissent’s equity principle – cannot enrich yourself as a result of your own wrong; therefore, employer should not win here
vi.     In reality, child cannot demand payment; thus he is not an employee
vii.    P wants to be found not an employee to get out from workers’ compensation; vice versa for employer (this may shift based on circumstances)
b.      Employment law is a statutory field – definition of employee will differ from statute to statute
i.         In IRC, definition is broad
ii.       In NLRA, definition is narrower
iii.      Political parties will factor in here too (R = narrow; D = broad)
C.     Sources of Modern Employment Law
1.      Introduction
a.      In public sector at time of independence, a public job was given based on who your father was (nepotism – birth and class determined if you got government office)
Big change in 19th century with President Jackson – you got your job on the basis of did you belong to the right political party and work for that party (patronage politics)