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The Scope and Program Committee, at its meeting on January 11-12, 1985, recommended to the Executive Committee that it appoint a Committee to draft a Uniform Wrongful Termination Act. The recommendation was based in part on studies indicating that recent judicial modifications in the doctrine of employment at will had created great uncertainty for both employers and employees. (That uncertainty has grown. See infra.) Members of the Scope and Program Committee stressed that uniformity would be desirable because employees might be hired in one state, work in another, and be fired in a third, and that the subject gave the Conference an opportunity to provide sensible guidance in an area of growing confusion.

At the 1985 Annual Meeting, the Executive Committee responded to this recommendation by establishing the Study Committee on Proposed Employment Termination Act. Stanley M. Fisher of Cleveland, Ohio, was appointed chair. On June 2, 1986, Mr. Fisher transmitted a report in which the Study Committee unanimously recommended that the Executive Committee establish a Drafting Committee for a Uniform Employment Termination Act.

The Executive Committee adopted this recommendation at its February 1987 midyear meeting. On October 5, 1987, Mr. Fisher officially advised the members of the new Drafting Committee on Uniform Employment Termination Act of their responsibilities. Professor Theodore J. St. Antoine of the University of Michigan Law School was named Reporter for the Committee and a Review Committee was established with James A. King of Honolulu as its chair.

Advisors were invited from the ABA's Section of Labor and Employment Law and Section of Torts and Insurance Practice; the AFL-CIO; the American Arbitration Association; the American Trial Lawyers Association; the National Association of Manufacturers; the Plaintiff Employment Lawyers Association; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and many other interested groups, including law professors and interested attorneys practicing in the field. A large number of law review articles and other relevant studies of wrongful discharge and proposed solutions were circulated among Committee members and advisors. Bills prepared in several states were closely examined, especially those in California, Illinois, Michigan, and New York, as well as the one statute enacted in Montana.

The Drafting Committee held full working sessions in New Orleans on February 19-21, 1988; in Dallas on November 18-20, 1988; and in Los Angeles on March 10-12, 1989. Each session produced a new or completely revised draft. All drafts were duly styled. The draft prepared for the 98th Annual Meeting of the Conference in Kauai, Hawaii, was approved for submission by the Review Committee.

The proposed Act received its first reading in Kauai on August 2 and 4, 1989, with the Commissioners sitting as a Committee of the Whole. There were many varied comments and questions from the floor and two "sense of the house" resolutions were adopted. Subsequently, the Drafting Committee had two more working sessions, in Denver on December 8-10, 1989, and in Chicago on March 9-11, 1990. Particular emphasis was placed on responding to the points raised and resolutions adopted in Kauai. The result was two more revised drafts.

The Commissioners, again sitting as a Committee of the Whole, conducted a second reading at the 99th Annual Meeting of the Conference on July 18, 1990, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Various suggestions received from the floor were incorporated in new drafts discussed at meetings of the Drafting Committee on November 9-11, 1990, in Chicago, and on February 22-24, 1991, in Denver. These drafts, too, were duly styled and resulted in a revision recommended by the Drafting Committee to the Executive Committee to be reported out as a Uniform Act for final reading. The Review Committee concurred.

The third and final reading before the Commissioners sitting as a Committee of the Whole took place at the 100th Annual Meeting of the Conference in Naples, Florida, on August 3, 4, and 5, 1991. A number of changes, primarily of a technical nature, were adopted in response to motions or suggestions from the floor. The Conference formally approved the Employment Termination Act as a Model Act on August 8, 1991.


Reproduced with permission. Copyright 1991 National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. Contributing University of Michigan Law faculty member was Theodore St. Antoine.