The Human Resources departments in American companies – especially large ones – have become very careful in how they handle employee performance appraisals. Not only because they strive to develop their talent, but also in order to avoid lawsuits. Even well-designed appraisals can lead to a lawsuit if they are poorly implemented or applied in an inconsistent manner.
Because U.S. labor courts continue to make exceptions to the once solid At-Will doctrine, employers face greater requirements to prove legitimate business reasons for many personnel actions.
At-Will employment is a term used in American labor law for contractual relationships in which an employee can be dismissed by an employer for any reason and without warning. The rule is justified by its proponents on the basis that an employee may be similarly entitled to leave his or her job without reason or warning.
At-Will employment gradually became the default rule under the common law of the employment contract in most states during the late 19th century. Over the 20th century many states modified the rule by adding an increasing number of exceptions, or by changing the default expectations in the employment contract altogether.