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Employment At-Will: District of Columbia

Employment At-Will requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Authors: Stuart R. Buttrick, Susan W. Kline and Sarah E. Caldwell, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP

Summary

  • Employment relationships in the District of Columbia are strongly presumed to be at-will, meaning that employees who seek to demonstrate a more substantial relationship bear a heavy burden of proof. See Employment At-Will Doctrine, Generally.
  • Both verbal exchanges and the written provisions of employee handbooks or policy manuals can alter the at-will status of employees, depending on whether the words or writings satisfy an evidentiary threshold. See Employment Contracts.
  • The District of Columbia recognizes exceptions to the employment at-will doctrine based on public policy considerations, but only if the public policy derives from required sources. See Public Policy Exceptions.
  • The District of Columbia recognizes that the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing applies to some employment relationships, but does not extend the covenant's protections to at-will employees. See Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.
  • Claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress against employers are possible in the District of Columbia, though claimants must overcome a steep evidentiary burden to be successful. See Exceptions in Tort.