Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 191–206 | Cite as

Wrongful firing in violation of public policy: Who gets fired and why

  • Melissa S. Baucus
  • Terry Morehead Dworkin


We extend the whistle-blowing literature to the context of wrongful firings that violate a public policy. Our results suggest that the incidence of wrongful firings varies, depending on the employee’s gender and tenure, and the industry in which the organization operates. Wrongful firings do not occur more frequently in certain occupations, since firms wrongfully discharge professional and managerial employees as often as employees in technical, clerical, and laborer occupations. We also show that gender, tenure, occupation, and industry, in combination, can distinguish between three types of wrongful firings in violation of public policy. Our results support the application of theory and empirical research on whistle-blowing to the wrongful firing context, aiding researchers interested in developing explanations of wrongful firings in violation of public policy. For managers, our study points to the need to develop more effective responses to employees exercising legal rights, refusing to participate in illegal or unethical activities, and performing a public duty or obligation, such as whistle-blowing.

Key words

wrongful firing whistle-blowing employee rights employment at will corporate wrongdoing 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa S. Baucus
    • 1
  • Terry Morehead Dworkin
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Management and Human Resources, College of BusinessUtah State UniversityLogan
  2. 2.Department of Business LawIndiana UniversityBloomington

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