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Employment At-Will: Ohio

Employment At-Will requirements for other states

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

Author: Keith A. Asthmus and Michael N. Chesney, Frantz Ward LLP


  • Ohio courts presume that all employment relationships are at-will, meaning that plaintiffs seeking to demonstrate the existence of a contractual relationship bear the burden of proof. See Employment At-Will Doctrine, Generally.
  • In analyzing an employment relationship based on an express or implied contract, the courts will look to determine the intent of the parties. See Employment Contracts.
  • Verbal promises of employment tenure or grounds for termination can form the basis of implied contracts, so long as the other requisite contractual elements are also present. See Verbal Promises.
  • Written provisions of an employee handbook or policy manual can also create an implied contractual relationship, so long as the written provisions meet a contractual standard. See Employee Handbooks.
  • Ohio recognizes significant exceptions to the employment at-will doctrine based on public policy. Plaintiffs must meet an evidentiary burden in order to make a valid claim based on public policy. See Public Policy Exceptions.
  • Ohio does not recognize the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing as it pertains to employment relationships. See Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.
  • Ohio recognizes several other employment-related torts, including intentional infliction of emotional distress and promissory estoppel. See Exceptions in Tort.