Volume 76, 2002
Philosophy at the Boundary of Religion
Janette M. Blandford
Employment-at-Will in the Context of Catholic Higher Education
The principle of employment-at-will (EAW) holds that in the absence of an explicit agreement of contractually binding terms of employment, the employment relationship exists so long as both parties will it to continue. In practice, this means that the employer may terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any reason, thus giving rise to cases of wrongful termination. Just cause policies, on the other hand, require that employers follow both substantive and procedural due process in terminating a person’s employment. Most institutions of higher education, public and private, at least implicitly accept the principle of EAW and carry it out in practice. I argue that because of their heritage of Catholic social thought, Catholic universities are obligated to replace the principle and practice of EAW with a just cause policy. I also point out that the very principles underlying Catholic social thought that lead to a rejection of EAW are principles that any highly educated person of good will should accept.