Because employees were able to resign from positions they no longer cared to occupy, employers also were permitted to discharge employees at their own will.
The Industrial Revolution planted the seeds for the erosion of the employment-at-will doctrine. When employees began forming unions, the collective bargaining agreements were formed and the unions had to negotiate with employers frequently because the agreement had provisions in them that required just cause for adverse employment actions, as well as procedures for arbitrating employee grievances.
The 1960s marked the beginning of Federal legislative protections (including Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act) from wrongful discharge based on race, religion, sex, age, and national origin. These protections reflected the changing view of the relationship between employer and employee. Rather than seeing the relationship as being on equal footing, courts and legislatures slowly began to recognize that employers frequently had economic advantages when negotiating with potential or current employees. The recognition of employment as being central to a person's livelihood and well-being, coupled with the fear of being unable to protect a person's livelihood from unjust termination, led to the development of common-law, or judicial, exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine beginning in the late 1950s.
Employers should use gender neutral terms when advertising for staff.