Employment Law

At-Will Employment

What state passed a law that repealed the employment at-will doctrine?

Montana is the only state that has passed a law that eliminated the at-will employment doctrine. Montana had a statute that provided for at-will employment. However, in 1987 the Montana legislature passed law called the Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act (WDFEA). It established that for employers needed good cause to fire employees who have completed their probationary periods of employment.

The interesting part of this was that when the Montana legislature passed its wrongful discharge law, it did not repeal its prior statute providing for at-will employment. However, in Whidden v. Nerison (1999), the Montana Supreme Court ruled that the Montana legislature repealed the at-will statute by implication, writing: “[W]e hold … that the WDFEA has superseded and impliedly repealed the at-will act.” The Montana high court also determined that the burden is on an employer to determine that an employee was discharged during a probationary period.

Anti-discrimination laws are designed to prevent employers from not hiring someone just because of his or her race, religion, gender, or national origin. A diverse workforce can actually benefit a business, as it can allow for a broader range of input from employees with various backgrounds and experiences (iStock).

This is a web preview of the "The Handy Law Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App