Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2006


Wrongful discharge in violation of public policy circumscribes the employment at-will doctrine by prohibiting employers from firing employees who engage in conduct that is deemed to be protected by state or federal public policy. While much has been written about the pros and cons of such wrongful discharge claims, to date no scholarship has focused on the problems that arise when the source of public policy is a federal rather than state statute. This article analyzes the historical and current approaches to the use of federal statutes as a source of public policy to protect employees against discharge, concluding that courts fail to adequately assess whether federal statutes are an appropriate source of public policy. It then proposes a framework that courts should adopt to determine whether to recognize a federal statute as a source of public policy.