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Employment At-Will: South Dakota

Employment At-Will requirements for other states

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

Author: Gloria Ju


  • South Dakota is an employment at-will state by statute, meaning that employees will bear the burden of proof to establish employment contracts. See Employment At-Will Doctrine, Generally.
  • Written statements in employee handbooks and policy manuals may alter the at-will status of employees, provided the written provision includes certain details. See Employment Contracts.
  • While disclaimers may preserve at-will relationships with employees, employers should examine other written provisions to ensure they do not conflict with the terms of the at-will disclaimer. See Employment Contracts.
  • Verbal promises regarding employment tenure or grounds for termination may also be enforceable against employers. See Employment Contracts.
  • South Dakota recognizes public policy exceptions to the employment at-will doctrine, but requires the public policy consideration derives from specific sources of law or policy. See Public Policy Exceptions.
  • South Dakota does not recognize the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in the employment at-will context. See Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.
  • South Dakota courts recognize other employment-related claims, including intentional infliction of emotional distress, promissory estoppel, defamation and retaliatory discharge. See Exceptions in Tort.