VanderVelde's Modern Employment Law: In Time and Place

West Academic Publishing
Primary Subject
Employment Law
American Casebook Series
Publication Date
eBook - Lifetime digital access to the eBook, with the ability to highlight and take notes.


This casebook is unique in two ways: 1) It centers the study of employment law, not on contract, but on the power imbalance in the employment relation. 2) It explains current law by highlighting its history and contingency over time and and place. The casebook includes every topic in every major casebook, but with the book’s unique twist that work and the opportunity to work is a necessary civil right, that has changed over time.

Employment At-Will is, of course, the cornerstone. The book addresses all the state variations, regarding handbooks, public policy exceptions, the covenant of good faith, abusive discharge, and privacy. The book is pedagogically strong in systematically reinforcing students’ existing knowledge of the elements of contract and tort law. Nonetheless, employment is repeatedly considered a “special relationship.” The opportunity to work as a human endeavor is akin to a civil right.

The book examines the legal theories of how repeat players influence legal change, slippery slope, binary thinking, and mandating minimums.

The book is unique in organizing the common law origins of each legal rule, explaining how current law came into effect. Explaining this history demonstrates the contingency of many legal rules, rather than their inevitability. The relevant law changes, because the previous customs and systems no longer work. Law is the result of what has gone before. The casebook explores the past in order to understand the contingency of the present and to chart the future legal framework.

As we saw during the pandemic, employment practices can change dramatically. The lingering worldwide pandemic has jolted work law, just as Reconstruction, industrialization, railroads, and the New Deal did in the past. The book references recent trends taking place in the past two years, such as the importance of certain kinds of jobs, customs, such as work from home, and employee expectations.