Employment at Will: A State-by-State Survey, With 2015 Cumulative Supplement

This treatise provides a comprehensive analysis of the employment-at-will doctrine in every state. The desk reference uses the same set of topics for each state, facilitating both comparative and single-state research. It is a powerful tool for practitioners articulating their arguments using analogies and examples from the laws of other states. 

Melinda J. Caterine


Employment at Will: A State-by-State Survey provides a comprehensive analysis of the employment at will doctrine, as well as the exceptions that various states have applied. Using a uniform topic structure that provides a comparative view across states, this treatise is extremely helpful for lawyers with a multi-jurisdictional practice, as well as for those seeking persuasive authority from other states.


The treatise analyzes, for every state:

  • The creation of enforceable employment agreements through employee handbooks, written personnel policies, and oral assurances
  • Common law claims for wrongful discharge and state statutes prohibiting termination
  • The covenant of good faith and fair dealing in express and implied employment contracts
  • The effect of disclaimers on the employment at will relationship
  • The public policy exception to the doctrine of employment at will
  • The burden of proof necessary to sustain a claim of wrongful discharge
  • What constitutes “just cause” for purposes of termination
  • The effect of disclaimers on the employment at will relationship
  • Potential damages in a wrongful discharge claim
  • Related tort claims arising out of the employment relationship
  • State statues that prohibit termination based on certain protected classifications



Supplement Information  

The 2015 Cumulative Supplement includes the following:

  • California—discrimination lawsuit may be pursued even though employee presented false work authorization documents to order to obtain employment
  • Florida—employer in the process of winding down its business may be held liable for additional compensation where it gave at-will employees assurances of future compensation if they did not resign
  • Illinois—employer violated a specific-duration contract by terminating employee for inadequate performance when level of performance was not a term in the contract
  • Michigan—breach of contract claims have been dismissed based on disclaimers in retirement plan booklets
  • New Jersey—“yearly review” did not negate an employee’s at-will status and did not convey “property right” triggering due process protections
  • Virginia—public policy exception to employment at will only extends to claims for discharge and not for claims of wrongful discipline




Bloomberg BNA authors and editors are practicing professionals with insider perspectives and real-life experience. Learn more about this book’s authors and editors.
Melinda J. Caterineis a partner at the Portland, ME office of Littler Mendelson P.C., a national labor and employment firm representing management.

Employment Rights and Responsibilities Committee, ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law


View full tables of contents and read the book’s preface or introduction.