Oregon Law Review : Vol. 90, No. 2, p. 449-524 : Justice, Employment, and the Psychological Contract

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Title: Oregon Law Review : Vol. 90, No. 2, p. 449-524 : Justice, Employment, and the Psychological Contract
Author: DiMatteo, Larry A.; Bird, Robert C.; Colquitt, Jason A.
Abstract: Part I of this Article examines the evolving law of employment discharge. This part highlights the long history and development of the modern rule. Far from being a construction of judicial fiat, employment at will took hold in the United States as a result of a number of social and economic developments that impacted employment relations during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Part II introduces the concept of the psychological contract, a bundle of expectations an employee possesses about the mutual obligations extant between the employee and the employer. The psychological contract, a construct commonly used in human resource literature, offers explanatory power in that it helps explain the antecedents and outcomes of employment termination. In this Part we show that breach of psychological contracts by employers can have a meaningful effect on the attitudes of employees toward their employer. Part III provides the data and rationale for the empirical survey of employment termination presented in this Article. The respondents in the survey were provided one of twelve discharge scenarios involving issues of procedural and substantive justice. In some of the scenarios, the participants were provided degrees of information as to the state of the existing law of employment discharge. Respondents were then questioned on their attitudes toward the company and their willingness to seek legal redress. Part III then reports our findings. The study found that while substantive and procedural fairness in isolation improve employee attitudes, having both a fair reason and a fair process for discharge considerably amplifies these positive attitudes. We also reach the conclusion, among others, that propensity to sue correlates with the legal knowledge of employees regarding their rights or lack thereof. This Article concludes that employers have a significant influence over whether former employees take legal action or retaliate against the firm.
Description: 76 pages
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/11962
Date: 2011

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