If an employer is planning on terminating an employee whom the employer feels may be litigious or a "high-risk termination," then the employer may want the employee to sign a carefully prepared severance and release agreement. Giving an employee severance (i.e., money or something of value) in exchange for the employee signing a release of all claims against the employer is a legally acceptable mechanism for an employer to avoid potential litigation.
Over my rather lengthy career as a Management-Oriented Labor/Employment Lawyer (started November 6, 1972 with the Walgreen Company), I have seen a drastic and very unfortunate change in the Employer-Employee relationship. Over the last ten (10) years, there has been an over 500% increase in Employee Litigation. You do not need a Lawyer to tell you that Employment Litigation is expensive, both in the financial commitment and the time-productivity loss commitment. Here are a few of my suggestions for trying to eliminate or limit Employee Litigation:
Yes, Illinois really is an employment-at-will state. To that point, Illinois courts follow the employment-at-will legal doctrine in deciding "discharge cases."
In this case, American Airlines looks like a harsh and unreasonable employer. The Claimant was an American Airlines employee who was fired by American Airlines for merely helping a passenger obtain a seating upgrade and also giving the passenger some champagne for the flight.
Certainly the last few weeks have not been very pleasant for the National Football League/Roger Goodell and for the Federal Judiciary. The NFL has had to deal with domestic violence/child abuse involving its stars (Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, Jonathan Dwyer, and, thanks to Gloria Allred, Brandon Marshall from a 2007 incident) and the Federal Judiciary has had to deal with the spousal abuse of United States District Court Judge Mark Fuller, an Alabama Federal Judge, who took a plea deal for beating his wife in August. While the drumbeats have been extremely loud for Commissioner Goodell to resign and for Judge Fuller to give up his lifetime appointment as a Federal Jurist, all of these cases point to the fact that no one and no employer can fully insulate itself from the scrutiny and polarizing beliefs if someone is accused of domestic violence/child abuse.