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Employment At-Will: Wisconsin

Employment At-Will requirements for other states

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

Author: Michael C. Jacobson, XpertHR Legal Editor


  • Wisconsin courts adhere to the employment at-will doctrine, going so far as to expressly declare that Wisconsin employers need not terminate at-will employees in good faith. See Employment At-Will Doctrine, Generally.
  • Wisconsin courts require litigants to fulfill a steep evidentiary obligation to demonstrate the existence of an express employment contract. See Employment Contracts.
  • Likewise, Wisconsin courts are often reluctant to find that written provisions of employee handbooks create implied employment contracts. See Employment Contracts.
  • A clear and conspicuous at-will disclaimer in an employee handbook or policy manual will go a long way toward preserving the at-will nature of employment. See Employment Contracts.
  • Verbal assurances of job security, duration of employment, progressive discipline or grounds for termination may alter at-will employment in favor of an implied employment contract. See Employment Contracts.
  • Wisconsin courts require litigants who allege public policy violations to point to specific sources of public policy considerations. See Public Policy Exceptions.
  • A constructive discharge or forced resignation may derive from violations of public policy and thus, such resignations may still give rise to claims for wrongful termination. See Public Policy Exceptions.
  • Wisconsin courts have explicitly declared that the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing does not apply to employment relationships. See Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.
  • Wisconsin courts recognize other employment-related torts including intentional infliction of emotional distress, promissory estoppel, defamation, invasion of privacy and interference with contracts. See Exceptions in Tort.