The Structure of American Legal Institutions and the Diffusion of Wrongful-Discharge Laws, 1978-99
Donald J. Smythe
California Western School of Law
Robert C. Bird
University of Connecticut - School of Business
Law and Society Review, Forthcoming
This article evaluates how the social structure of American legal institutions influenced the diffusion of wrongful-discharge laws over the period from 1978-1999 and assesses whether economic or political variables influenced the diffusion process. The results are surprising and quite striking. Precedents by other courts within the same federal circuit region were generally more influential in the diffusion process than precedents by courts in neighboring states or by courts within the same census or West legal reporting region, even though the precedents were on matters of state law rather than federal law and the decisions were usually made by state courts rather than federal courts. There is some evidence that political variables may also have been a factor, but economic variables did not appear to be particularly important, even though the new employment laws may have had important economic consequences.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 43
Keywords: Employment-at-Will, Wrongful-Discharge, Social Networks, Legal Precedents, Network Effects
JEL Classification: K12, K31, K40
Date posted: January 25, 2008 ; Last revised: March 31, 2008
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