Challenging the Employment-At-Will Doctrine Through Modern Contract Theory

This Note advocates an implied contract analysis that both satisfies contractual requirements and protects the reasonable expectations of employees and employers. Part I describes the various reliance interests that employees bring to their jobs, the employer inducements that cause this reliance, and the business benefits that accrue when employees rely upon these inducements. Part II examines in detail judicial reluctance to enforce either these reliance interests or employer promises as contract rights under the at-will doctrine. Part II also urges the increased use of modern contract theories such as promissory estoppel, quasi-contract, and implied contract to protect employee reliance interests and expectations of job security. This Note concludes that when an employer pursues business policies that encourage expectations of job security, a just cause guarantee should be enforced.