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Employment At-Will: Hawaii

Employment At-Will requirements for other states

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

Author: Anna Elento-Sneed Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing


  • Hawaii courts adhere to the employment at-will doctrine, meaning that employees who seek to prove the existence of a contract, written or implied, bear the burden of proof. See Employment At-Will Doctrine, Generally.
  • Verbal promises may become the basis for an implied contract, but it is extremely rare in the state of Hawaii. See Employment Contracts.
  • Written statements contained in an employee handbook or policy manual can also form the basis for a contract, so long as the statements in question satisfy an evidentiary threshold. See Employee Handbooks.
  • Hawaii courts do recognize public policy exceptions to the employment at-will doctrine, but employees seeking to argue that a termination violated public policy must satisfy an evidentiary burden. See Public Policy Exceptions.
  • Hawaii does not recognize the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing as it may pertain to employment disputes. See Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.
  • Hawaii courts recognize claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation in the employment context, but require that all such claims reach an evidentiary threshold. See Exceptions in Tort.