Saturday, April 29, 2006

At-Will Employee Can Still Sue for Wrongful Discharge

The Nebraska Supreme Court just ruled that at-will employees can sue for wrongful discharge in cases where the employee was fired in retaliation for reporting nursing home abuse to state regulators. The ruling was based on a "public policy exception" to the usual rule of at-will employment - and it makes sense. There is little economic justification for allowing employers to fire whistleblowers, and we don't want to encourage employees from tattling on their employers. Insider information can greatly lower the costs of regulatory (or criminal) enforcement, especially in areas where the "victims" are less able to file complaints themselves (like nursing home residents).