At-will employment is a doctrine of American law that defines an employment relationship in which either party can break the relationship with no liability provided there was no express contract for a definite term governing the employment relationship and that the employer does not belong to a collective bargain (i. The law of the United States was originally largely derived from the Common law system of English law, which was in force at the time of the Revolutionary Employment is a Contract between two parties, one being the employer and the other being the employee. A contract is an exchange of promises between two or more parties to do or refrain from doing an act which is enforceable in a court of law e. a union). Under this legal doctrine:
|“||any hiring is presumed to be "at will"; that is, the employer is free to discharge individuals "for good cause, or bad cause, or no cause at all," and the employee is equally free to quit, strike, or otherwise cease work. ||”|
Several exceptions to the doctrine exist, especially if unlawful discrimination is involved regarding the termination of an employee. Unlike most discrimination policies discrimination between, which is the discernment of qualities and recognition of the differences focused here discrimination against is
Since this reduces job security, it can create, in theory, an atmosphere of fear that may contribute to workplace bullying. Workplace bullying, like Childhood Bullying, is the tendency of individuals or groups to use persistent aggressive or unreasonable behavior against a co-worker As a means of downsizing, such as closing an unprofitable factory, a company may terminate employees en masse. Layoff is the temporary suspension or permanent Termination of employment of an Employee or (more commonly a group of employees for Business reasons However, there are legal limitations upon the employer's ability to terminate without reason.
The at-will rule has its genesis in a rule in Horace Gray Wood’s 1877 treatise on master-servant relations. Wood cited four U. S. cases as authority for his rule that when a hiring was indefinite, the burden of proof was on the servant to prove that an indefinite employment term was for one year.  In Toussaint v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Michigan, the Court noted that "Wood’s rule was quickly cited as authority for another proposition. "
Some courts saw the rule as requiring the employee to prove an express contract for a definite term in order to maintain an action based on termination of the employment.  Thus was born the U. S. at-will employment rule, which allowed discharge for no reason. This rule was adopted by all U.S. states. A US state is any one of the fifty subnational entities of the United States of America that share Sovereignty with the federal government It was not until 1959 that the first judicial exception to the at-will rule was created. 
Since then, several common law and statutory exceptions to at-will employment have been created. However, in the majority of cases, the burden of proof remains upon the discharged employee. No U. S. state but Montana has chosen to statutorily modify the employment at-will rule.  In 1987, the Montana legislature passed the Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act (WDEA). The Montana Act is unique in that, although it purports to preserve the at-will concept in employment law, it also expressly enumerates the legal bases for a wrongful discharge action.  Under the WDEA, a discharge is wrongful only if: "it was in retaliation for the employee's refusal to violate public policy or for reporting a violation of public policy; the discharge was not for good cause and the employee had completed the employer's probationary period of employment; or the employer violated the express provisions of its own written personnel policy. "
Forty-two U. S. states and the District of Columbia recognize public policy as an exception to the at-will rule. Washington DC ( formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, the District, or simply D  Under the public policy exception, an employer may not fire an employee if it would violate the state's public policy or a state or federal statute. Employment is a Contract between two parties, one being the employer and the other being the employee. Employment is a Contract between two parties, one being the employer and the other being the employee.
42 states have a public policy exception, thus 8 states do not. Those 8 states are:
The District of Columbia also has a public policy exception. Alabama (formally the State of Alabama;) is a State located in the southern region of the United States of America. Florida ( is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States, bordering Alabama to the northwest and Georgia to the The State of Georgia ( is a state in the United States and was one of the original Thirteen Colonies that revolted against British rule The State of Louisiana ( or, État de Louisiane, pronounced) is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America The State of Maine ( is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean Nebraska ( is a state located on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States and New York ( is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the United States and is the nation's third most populous Rhode Island ( officially named the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, is a state in the New England region of the United States Washington DC ( formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, the District, or simply D 
Thirty-eight U. S. states also recognize an implied contract as an exception to at-will employment.  Under the implied contract exception, an employer may not fire an employee "when an implied contract is formed between an employer and employee, even though no express, written instrument regarding the employment relationship exists. " Proving the terms of an implied contract is often difficult, and the burden of proof is on the fired employee. Implied employment contracts are most often found when an employer's personnel policies or handbooks indicate that an employee will not be fired except for good cause or specify a process for firing. If the employer fires the employee in violation of an implied employment contract, the employer may be found liable for breach of contract.
37 US states have an implied-contract exception, thus 13 do not. Those 13 states are:
This exception for a covenant of good faith and fair dealing represents the most significant departure from the traditional employment-at-will doctrine. Alabama (formally the State of Alabama;) is a State located in the southern region of the United States of America. Alaska ( Аляска Alyaska) is a state in the United States of America, in the northwest of the North American continent The State of Arizona ( is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. California ( is a US state on the West Coast of the United States, along the Pacific Ocean. Delaware ( is a state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The State of Idaho ( is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States of America. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts ( is a state located in the New England region of the northeastern United States. Montana ( is a state in the Western United States. One-third of the state in the western part contains numerous mountain ranges (approximately 77 named of the northern Nevada ( is a state located in the western region of the United States of America. The State of Utah (ˈjuːtɔː or) is a western state of the United States. The State of Wyoming ( is a sparsely populated state in the western region of the United States. Rather than narrowly prohibiting terminations based on public policy or an implied contract, this exception — at its broadest – reads a covenant of good faith and fair dealing into every employment relationship. It has been interpreted, by some courts, to mean either that employer personnel decisions are subject to a “just cause” standard or that terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice are prohibited. Use in Labor Union Contracts Just cause or Bare sagen is a common standard in labor arbitration that is used in labor union contracts as a form of job
Although all U. S. states have a number of statutory protections for employees, most wrongful termination suits brought under statutory causes of action use the federal anti-discrimination statutes which prohibit firing or refusing to hire an employee because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or handicap status. Wrongful dismissal, also called wrongful termination or wrongful discharge, is an Idiom and legal phrase describing a situation in which an employee's Other reasons an employer may not use to fire an at-will employee are:
Examples of federal statutes include: