Employment Law

At-Will Employment

How does a court determine a public policy exception to the at-will doctrine?

Different state courts apply different rules to determine when there are public policy exceptions to the at-will doctrine. Some states provide that public policy is evinced by the legislature. In these states, if there is a specific law or statute that provides an exception to the at-will doctrine, that suffices to establish public policy. For example, the states of Pennsylvania and Tennessee provide that public policy is shown by the legislature—the branch of government most attuned to setting policy. In other states, the courts develop public policy exceptions judicially. This means that the state supreme court (usually the name for the highest court in a state) establishes public policy exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine.


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