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17 W. St. U. L. Rev. 131 (1989-1990)
At Will Employment Agreements: New Focus for Shielding Employers from Wrongful Termination Suits

handle is hein.journals/wsulr17 and id is 137 raw text is: At Will Employment Agreements:
New Focus for Shielding Employers
From Wrongful Termination
The state supreme court's decision of Foley v. Interactive Data
Corp.' altered significantly wrongful termination law in California.' By
eliminating tort damages for breach of the implied covenant of good faith
and fair dealing,3 the court shifted an employee's primary remedy for
unfair dismissal from tort to contract law.' Consequently, employers in
California may find the use of at will employment agreements to be a
means of effectively insulating themselves from wrongful termination
suits.' These agreements are used to reaffirm the so-called American
rule6 that an employee hired for an indefinite term is employed on an at
will basis and may be terminated for good cause or no cause.7 Employers
may now use at will agreements to deter and successfully negate claims
that an employee has a contractual right to be terminated only for good
cause or in good faith.
This Comment will explore the possible judicial response in Califor-
nia to wrongful termination suits brought by employees who are bound
1. 47 Cal. 3d 654, 765 P.2d 373, 254 Cal. Rptr. 211 (1988).
2. Burden, Wrongful Discharge, 75 A.B.A. J. 20, 22 (1989); Hager, State High Court Takes
Anticipated Turn to the Right, L.A. Times, Jan. 1, 1989, § 1, at 3, col. 5; Carrizosa & Angel, 4-3
High Court Bars Tort Claims in Wrongful Firing, L.A. Daily Journal, Dec. 30, 1988, at 1, col. 6.
3. Foley, 47 Cal. 3d at 693, 765 P.2d at 396, 254 Cal. Rptr. at 234.
4. Id. at 696, 765 P.2d at 398, 254 Cal. Rptr. at 236.
5. Pre-Foley commentary: Carrizosa, Labor Attorneys Wait Eagerly for News on 'Foley', L.A.
Daily Journal, Sept. 26, 1988, at I and 11, col. 6; Bernstein, Fire-at-Will Clauses Put Force of Law
Behind Unfair Play, L.A. Times, Aug. 16, 1988, § 4, at 1, col. 1; Bradsher, Firms Ask that Workers
Waive Job Security, L.A. Times, July 31, 1988, § 1, at 1, col. 2. Post-Foley commentary: Carroll,
Good Cause Termination: A Post-'Foley' Counseling Strategy, L.A. LAW., March, 1989, at 18, 22;
L.A. Daily Journal, Feb. 20, 1989, at 2, col. 1; Carrizosa & Dresslar, Justices Extend 'Foley'Decision
Retroactively, L.A. Daily Journal, May 26, 1989, at 1, 22; Jordan, Capitol Reacts to 'Foley' with
Flurry of Bills, L.A. Daily Journal, Jan. 30, 1989, at 1, col. 6 (A state senator introduced a bill
outlawing at will'agreements. This bill is now pending on the Senate floor.).
6. The at will employment doctrine is ascribed to H.G. Wood and his 1877 work, Law of
Master and Servant. See Wagenseller v. Scottsdale Memorial Hosp. 147 Ariz. 370, 375, 710 P.2d
1025, 1030 (1985); Toussaint v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mich. 408 Mich. 579, 584-89, 292
N.W.2d 880, 885-90 (1980); Summers, The Role of the Unions in the 1980's, The Rights of Individual
Workers, 52 FORDHAM L. REV., 1082, 1083-84 (1984).
7. See CAL. LAB CODE § 2922 (Deering 1976).

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