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Employment At-Will: New York

Employment At-Will requirements for other states

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

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team


  • New York adheres to the employment at-will doctrine based on decisions of the state courts. Any modification of the at-will principle must be made by the state legislature. See Employment At-Will Doctrine, Generally.
  • New York courts will use a four-pronged test to ascertain whether conditions of the employment environment have created an express or implied contractual relationship. See Express and Implied Employment Contracts.
  • A conspicuous disclaimer in an employee handbook or policy manual will go a long way toward preserving the at-will status of employees in New York. See Disclaimers.
  • Verbal promises of employment tenure or the grounds for termination, by themselves, will rarely alter the at-will status of employees in New York. See Verbal Promises.
  • New York has a very narrow exception to the employment at-will doctrine based on violations of public policy. See Public Policy Exceptions.
  • New York courts do not recognize the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in the context of at-will employment relationships, with limited exceptions. See Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.
  • Claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, in the context of termination of employment, must meet a steep evidentiary threshold in order to be viable. Similarly, claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress may be viable, but only in specific circumstances. See Exceptions in Tort.