It is somewhat common for workers who have been fired to claim that their termination was a result of their employer retaliating against them for undesirable behavior. Proving such an accusation in court is another matter. Most states have “at-will” employment laws, which means employers can terminate a worker’s employment for no reason.
An employee who is not an at-will employee is considered to have a property interest in her employment. Under Illinois employment law, an employee can be seen as having a property interest in her employment if her employment contract provides “that termination will only be for cause or otherwise evince mutually explicit understandings of continued employment.”
In a recent legal dispute between Moraine Valley Community College and one of its former adjunct professors, the two parties disagreed as to whether the professor could be considered an at-will employee. The professor, Robin Meade, was also acting as the head of the Moraine Valley Adjunct Faculty Organization (MVAFO). The college had requested that Meade and other union leaders write to the League for Innovation in the Community College (LICC) to support Moraine Valley’s reapplication for the LICC board.
Instead of supporting the college, Meade alleegdly wrote a letter to the LICC that explained her reasons for not wanting to do so. Among these reasons, she accused the college of allegedly treating adjunct faculty as “a disposable resource” and “a separate, lower class of people.” Meade provided evidence which she said support this claim, citing the fact that the administration allocated more resources to full-time faculty and staff, and left adjuncts “to fend for themselves.” She also criticized the college for refusing to let adjuncts work on an hourly basis, as according to her that prevented them from spending extra time to tutor students. Continue reading ›