At-will employment is the dominant method of employment in the United States, meaning that an employee can be fired at any time for any reason.

However, there are instances where at-will employment is not accepted as an excuse for specific employment related issues. There are a number of federal anti discriminatory statutes that define protected groups who may otherwise be prone to discrimination, as well as local state laws that further shape public policy in employment matters.

The most widespread state level exceptions to the at-will doctrine are:

Public policy exception

When an employee can’t be fired for acting according to public policy.

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Implied contract exception

When the existence of an implied contract can be proven.

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Covenant of good faith exception

When an employee may only be fired with good cause.

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Local discrimination law

Beside Title VII, some states have a state level discrimination law.

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Here is a list of all of the states in the USA with exceptions to at-will employment, clearly marking whether the given state has legislation that create exceptions or not.

Keep in mind that the state level laws can be significantly different from state to state.

State Public Policy Implied Contract Covenant of Good Faith & Fair Dealing Local anti discrimination law
Alabama No Yes Yes No
Alaska Yes Yes Yes Yes
Arizona Yes No Yes Yes
Arkansas Yes Yes No No
California Yes Yes Yes Yes
Colorado Yes Yes No Yes
Connecticut Yes Yes No Yes
Delaware Yes No Yes Yes
District of Columbia Yes Yes No Yes
Florida No No No Yes
Georgia No No No No
Hawaii Yes Yes No Yes
Idaho Yes Yes Yes Yes
Illinois Yes Yes No Yes
Indiana Yes No No Yes
Iowa Yes Yes No Yes
Kansas Yes Yes No Yes
Kentucky Yes Yes No Yes
Louisiana No No No Yes
Maine No Yes No Yes
Maryland Yes Yes No Yes
Massachusetts Yes No Yes Yes
Michigan Yes Yes No Yes
Minnesota Yes Yes No Yes
Mississippi Yes Yes No No
Missouri Yes No No Yes
Montana Yes No No Yes
Nebraska No Yes No Yes
Nevada Yes Yes Yes Yes
New Hampshire Yes Yes No Yes
New Jersey Yes Yes No Yes
New Mexico Yes Yes No Yes
New York No Yes No Yes
North Carolina Yes No No Yes
North Dakota Yes Yes No Yes
Ohio Yes Yes No Yes
Oklahoma Yes Yes No Yes
Oregon Yes Yes No Yes
Pennsylvania Yes No No Yes
Rhode Island No No No Yes
South Carolina Yes Yes No Yes
South Dakota Yes Yes No Yes
Tennessee Yes Yes No Yes
Texas Yes No No Yes
Utah Yes Yes Yes Yes
Vermont Yes Yes No Yes
Virginia Yes No No Yes
Washington Yes Yes No Yes
West Virginia Yes Yes No Yes
Wisconsin Yes Yes No Yes
Wyoming Yes Yes Yes Yes
Total states with exceptions 42 36 11 46

State level discrimination laws change the minimum number of employees a private company must employ for the law to have effect, so if your state has a discrimination law, make sure you check it.