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HEARD ON THE BEAT / WORKPLACE

Protection From Firing Remains Limited

May 28, 1997|E. Scott Reckard | Times Staff Writer

Wrongful termination is a huge area of labor law, yet law school courses concentrating solely on the topic are rare. There's one this semester in Orange County--at Western State University College of Law.

The instructor, Mission Viejo attorney Don Sessions, notes that beginning in the Great Depression and especially since the 1980s, employees have won a number of protections from unfair dismissals. They include cases involving discrimination, retaliation for exercising legal rights, and implied contracts to fire people only for good cause.

These remain exceptions, though, Sessions says. In general, U.S. employers have broad discretion in handing out pink slips. In virtually every state, employees can be hired and fired at will unless workers have contracts for specified terms.

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E. Scott Reckard covers workplace issues for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-7407 and at scott.reckard@latimes.com

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