The “Good Cause Norm” in Employment Relations: Empirical Evidence and Policy Implications
Critics of the American employment at-will doctrine have argued that it should be abandoned because it is at odds with a societal level norm that employees should only be discharged for good reasons (the “good cause norm”). This paper examines the extent to which there is conceptual and empirical support for the existence of such a norm. Theoretical perspectives supporting the norms existence are discussed and integrated, and an interdisciplinary review of relevant research is provided. In light of the support that is found for the existence of a good cause norm in the American workplace, it is proposed that the current employment at-will default rule be changed to a waivable employee right to be discharged for good cause only.