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6 Lab. Law. 97 (1990)
Past, Present, and Future in Wrongful Termination Law

handle is hein.journals/lablaw6 and id is 121 raw text is: 

Past, Present, and Future in

Wrongful Termination Law

     Joseph R. Grodin*
     Hastings College of Law
     University of California
     San Francisco, California

I. Introduction
    Before discussing recent developments in wrongful termination
law, I hope you will tolerate a bit of personal historical musing by
someone who began his legal career thirty-five years ago when being
a labor lawyer meant understanding such things as the fine distinc-
tion the NLRB and the courts made between a rule prohibiting union
solicitation during working time and working hours, and when a
federal court could say without fear of contradiction that an em-
ployer could dismiss an employee for any reason or no reason at all,
so long as the reason wasn't union membership or activity. (Remem-
ber the E.G. Budd' case that's in all the labor law casebooks?) I have
been privileged, since then, to witness the growth and variations in
the labor and employment field from a variety of perspectives-as
an advocate, teacher, arbitrator, administrative agency member, and
state court judge. I have observed at close range the gradual but
ineluctable transition of our legal system away from the character-
istically American model in which the role of the state is simply to
establish a structure within which collective bargaining may occur,
toward the characteristically European model, in which the role of
the state is to provide certain basic protections to employees; in
short, from process to values.
    Nostalgia aside, I don't know that these changes are cause for
either lamentation or rejoicing. I doubt that they move us perceptibly
closer to either perdition or utopia. They need to be viewed with
perspective, as reflections of fundamental changes in our social
structure, and in our expectations regarding the relationship be-
tween a worker and his job. As a young union lawyer, I dreamed
that one day all workers would be represented by democratic and
effective unions of their own choosing, and I grieve over the loss of
that dream. At the same time, I welcome what appears to be a de-

   *This paper is based on a presentation made on August 9, 1989, to the ABA Section
of Labor and Employment Law.
    1. Edward G. Budd Mfg. Co. v. NLRB, 138 F.2d 86 (3d Cir. 1943).

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