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Employment At-Will: North Carolina

Employment At-Will requirements for other states

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

Author: Amie Flowers Carmack and Douglas Britt, K&L Gates LLP


  • Employment relationships in North Carolina are presumed to be at-will, meaning the employment relationship can be terminated by either party, at any time, with or without cause. See The At-Will Relationship.
  • North Carolina recognizes limited exceptions to the at-will presumption, including written contracts and public policy exceptions.See Employment At-Will Exceptions.
  • At-will employees in North Carolina challenging a discharge may file claims against their employers under tort theories, including intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation, so long as the plaintiff employee is able to satisfy an evidentiary burden. See Tort Considerations.