employment law


An organized effort to damage a business by refusing to patronize it. The goal is attract attention to and influence the business's policies. Labor unions and their sympathizers have boycotted lettuce and grapes not picked by union farm workers, and civil rights activists have boycotted stores and restaurants that had "white only" hiring policies. The term is named for Captain Charles C. Boycott, a notorious land agent, whose neighbors ostracized him during Ireland's Land League rent wars in the 1880s. Boycotts are not illegal in themselves, unless there are threats or violence involved. (See also: secondary boycott)

Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)


An independent hearing examiner who presides at an administrative hearing. An ALJ has the power to administer oaths, receive evidence, take testimony, and make initial findings of fact or law. An ALJ’s findings are subject to review and modification by agency heads. Also termed hearing examiner; hearing officer; and trial examiner.

Abusive Discharge


A fired employee's claim that the firing breached some public policy of the state.  Abusive discharge claims are often brought when no claim for breach of contract or violation of a statute can be alleged.  Instead of relying on an employment contract or an express statute that would prohibit termination, the employee attempts to show that the firing violated a general public policy espoused by the state. 

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A type of savings account made possible by federal law.  By creating a financial plan under 26 U.S.C. 401(k), employers can help their workers save for retirement while reducing taxable income.  Workers can choose to deposit part of their earnings into a 401(k) account on a pre-tax basis.  Furthermore, interest earned on money in a 401(k) account is never taxed before funds are withdrawn.


Employment-at-will Doctrine


At-will employment refers to an employment agreement stating that employment is for an indefinite period of time and may be terminated either by employer or employee. If an employment is at-will, such an agreement would typically be expressly included in the relevant employment contract. 


Even if an employment agreement contains an at-will provision, there are certain reasons as to why termination could still be wrongful. These exceptions will typically vary by state.


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