Friday, July 24, 2009

Public Policy Exception to the "at-will" Rule Expanded

The Michigan Supreme Court issued a decision that expands upon the Public Policy Exception to the at-will employment rule. On July 21, 2009, in McNeil v Charlevoix County, the court ruled that a local health department rule that prohibited employers in Charlevoix County from discharging or retaliating against an employee for exercising his or her right to a smoke free environment was enforceable in a private lawsuit.

The decision expands upon the types of cases that can be pursued under an important exception to the at-will employment rule. (For a full discussion of the at-will rule, read the first few posts to this blog).

More importantly, the case suggests that the new composition of the Michigan Supreme Court (with the addition of Justice Hathaway in the 2008 election) may change the recent trend of cases that had eroded the exceptions to the at-will rule.

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