Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 115, Issue 2, pp 311–325

Distributive Justice, Employment-at-Will and Just-Cause Dismissal


DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1400-9

Cite this article as:
Harcourt, M., Hannay, M. & Lam, H. J Bus Ethics (2013) 115: 311. doi:10.1007/s10551-012-1400-9


Dismissal is a major issue for distributive justice at work, because it normally has a drastic impact on an employee’s livelihood, self-esteem and future career. This article examines distributive justice under the US’s employment-at-will (EAW) system and New Zealand’s just-cause dismissal system, focusing on the three main categories of dismissal, namely misconduct, poor performance and redundancy. Under EAW, employees have limited protection from dismissal and remedies are restricted to just a few so-called exceptions. Comparatively, New Zealand’s just-cause system delivers much more just outcomes, both in terms of remedies and punishments. Despite a few shortcomings, it should be considered as a reasonable reference for policy changes in the US.


DismissalEmployment-at-willJust-causeDistributive justice

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Strategy and Human Resource Management, Waikato Management SchoolUniversity of WaikatoPrivate Bag 3105New Zealand
  2. 2.Human Resource Management, Sorrell College of BusinessTroy UniversityTroyUSA
  3. 3.Human Resource Management, Centre for Innovative Management, Faculty of BusinessAthabasca UniversitySt. AlbertCanada