The Pond Separates Cultures but Not Values: A Comparative Look at the French Codification of Right to Withdrawal of Labor and the American Concept of At-Will Employment
20 Pages Posted: 11 May 2021 Last revised: 31 Jan 2022
Date Written: December 12, 2021
The differences and similarities between the United States common law concept of “right to work” and the modern development in France of the right to withdraw labor following the “Yellow Vest” movement in 2018 demonstrate a parallel diminution of workers’ rights. These changes are motivated by the same values inherent within capitalism that are superimposed through the law. This Article analyzes the social and legal contexts in both countries that demonstrate that the superimposition of these values through law is a continuing modern western trend. The key difference is that while the French model is designed to decrease the pressure for strike actions by workers, it also serves as a protection to workers as compared with the American model which exists as a tool to remove workplace protections by substantially altering the terms and conditions of employment. Further, this Article demonstrates that these concepts are both divergent and convergent in terms of core shared values and the peripheral aspect of laws setting cultural norms. This Article then concludes through comparative analysis that while the French right to withdraw labor is a product of legislative supremacy, and the American view within the common law is that at-will employment is the standard, the French model is a product of generations of social negotiations. The American model is a product of the easily swayed influences within the common law that allow a new legal theory with little to no precedential value at the time of its proposal to be adopted in sweeping fashion with very little civil discourse.
Keywords: Comparative Law, Strike Actions, Right to Work, Right to Withdrawal of Labor, French Labour Code, Social Negotiations, Jurisdictional Analyses, International Normative Studies
JEL Classification: J0, J00, J01, J1, J18, J2, J20, J24, J28, J4, J41, J47, J48, J5, J50, J51, J52, J58, J6, J68, K1
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