Despite the sympathy that Samuels certainly deserves, the facts of this case favor International. Samuels should have obtained a written contract before leaving the security of her home and job. Any professional should be aware of the precarious nature of at-will employment which, even if it is arguably outdated and unfair, remains a law. Many states have implied contract exceptions, but it would have been responsible for Samuels to learn whether or not she was moving to a state where such exceptions existed since she did not insist on a written contract. The economic downturn is irrelevant to the argument because the at-will employment doctrine clearly favors International. The only way for Samuels to prevail and the only other factor that would improve her consideration would be if her case became a precedent for overturning the at-will employment doctrine of that state.
While at-will employment does determine the outcome of this specific case, it is an unfair doctrine. As long as it prevails, situations like the one Sally Samuels became trapped in cannot be resolved any other way. An economic downturn is hard on employees and employers alike and the understanding of employment should be equal responsibility in both directions. Neither employers nor employees should be able to terminate a contract, written or otherwise, without just cause or by following proper channels. Employers spent a sufficient amount of time recruiting and training employees and expect employees to show up to work and perform their job and employees should be able to count on that work and income continuing so long as they perform as required. The legislature itself should be the agent of change to provide the courts a clear means of ruling in these situations, as they currently have with the at-will doctrine, so they do not become tied up and bogged down with lawsuits and debate.
The discussion of the ethical considerations of this issue is somewhat weak. Abercrombie & Fitch is entitled to reasonable policies and a uniform is not unreasonable. They invest a considerable amount of money in market analysis, presumably anyway as a major business, and should be allowed to act how they see fit, within the bounds of the law. Of course, this raises the question of whether or not their uniform policy makes a reasonable allowance for a head covering of religious significance. By not allowing for this they are directly discriminating against a couple of religions because they know this precludes members of those religions from employment. Elauf should have confronted this issue before applying though, knowing from their policies that it would be a problem.
Otherwise, this response seems very accurate. It is highly unlikely that Abercrombie & Fitch would win the suit even if they found firm legal footing. A court is highly unlikely to set a precedent for anything like religious discrimination. Though the company does have a reasonable privilege to determine their own policies, and determine whether or not the employee should continue to receive employee benefits, and they should have been more diplomatic about denying Ms. Elauf’s employment and they should be willing to make concessions for reasonable religious clothing. It seems that more likely than either side winning the suit, Abercrombie & Fitch would pay a settlement to minimize the exposure of this kind of case.