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Scenario #1: Hospital Employee At-will Termination
The at-will principle is one of those ideas that make employment issues both easier and more complicated at the same time, depending on the perspective. While formally, it is less challenging, with fewer obligations and papers to fill, in terms of legal issues, the at-will concept makes the process of investigation extremely tangled. The case in point, Mr. Fusal’s termination of the contract for no apparent reason, is one of the most graphic examples of the flaws of the at-will doctrine. It must be admitted that, technically, there are a lot of details that make Mr. Fusal’s attempt to prove his point inconsistent:
- Mr. Fusal signed the contract, which means that he was aware of uncertainties regarding his possible dismissal;
- Knowing the controversy of the agreement that he signed, Mr. Fusal should have taken care of the evidence that could prove his record being impeccable.
As few as these arguments are, they still make the reasonability of Mr. Fusal’s claim questionable.
Scenario #2: When the At-will Principle Rubs the Wrong Way
Even though the current at-will employment principles have admittedly been shaped so that the decisions made by either an employee or an employer should follow the current legislation principles, it goes without saying that the uncertainty and lack of commentary on the choices made by either of the parties seem to be the basic problem with the at-will principle in employment, especially when it concerns the field of medicine, and nowhere is the given issue as evident as in the case of Mr. Fusal’s dismissal. The following arguments must be used as the key reason for reconsidering the choice made by the healthcare organization:
- The lack of transparency in the applied principle does not allow for defining the guilty party. Therefore, unless it is proven that the dismissal was caused by either of the reasons listed below, the dismissal cannot be considered legitimate:
- Mr. Fusal’s lack of competence;
- Mr. Fusal’s professional mistakes;
- Mr. Fusal’s mistakes that caused his patient’s or patients’ health problems.
- The fact that, due to the lack of clarity, not professional, but personal issues, i.e., the conflicts between Mr. Fusal and the organization’s managers/leaders may have triggered the dismissal.
As long as Mr. Fusal’s fault has not been technically proven, he has all reasons to defend his rights.
Scenario #3: Considering the Issue Objectively: Ethical Concerns
Perhaps, one of the most controversial aspects of the current employment legislation, at-will employment already has enough loopholes in it for infringing the rights of either an employee or an employer, leaving alone the fact that the healthcare field complicates the matter unnecessarily: “The common-law employment-at-will doctrine provides […] that employment may be terminated by the employer or employee at any time for any or no reason” (Pozgar, 2011, p. 424). Therefore, it must be admitted that, to pass the decision on whether Mr. Fused can be once again trusted the position that he used to take at the hospital is rather questionable. Seeing how little to no explanation was provided on the reasons for the termination of his contract with the employer, it can be assumed that the reasons for his dismissal could range from professional incompetency to conflicts with his employers, for that matter. Anyway, it seems that, at present, it will be reasonable to try seeking justice until further investigation shows who was exactly to blame for Mr. Fusal’s dismissal. Unless the latter was fired for being unprofessional, the organization must, at the very least, offer compensation to Mr. Fusal.
Pozgar, G. (2011). Legal aspects of health care administration. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.