On the Ethics of At-Will Employment in the Public Sector

Richard Green, Robert Forbis, Anne Golden, Stephen L. Nelson, Jennifer Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Some public agencies are substituting at-will employment relations for civil service protection. At-will employees can be dismissed for any reason or no reason at all. Proponents see it as a way to improve managerial flexibility and efficiency, and to motivate employees to work harder under competitive conditions similar to those in the private sector. Such claims may seem attractive in this era of budgetary deficits and fiscal conservatism, but they ignore legal, political, and managerial factors that complicate the picture dramatically. They also overlook the ethical relation of these factors to the public trust. This article examines the issue in terms of its practical and ethical significance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-327
Number of pages23
JournalPublic Integrity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2006


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