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Employment At-Will: Pennsylvania

Employment At-Will requirements for other states

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

Author: Celia M. Joseph, Fisher Phillips


  • Pennsylvania recognizes the employment at-will doctrine and presumes that employment relationships are at will, meaning that plaintiffs who seek to prove the existence of a contractual relationship must satisfy an evidentiary burden. See Employment At-Will Doctrine, Generally.
  • Employees may also argue that they provided employers with additional consideration beyond their agreement to work for the employer. See Consideration in Exchange for a Contract.
  • In analyzing an employment relationship based on an express or implied contract, the courts will look to determine the intent of the parties and to determine whether the parties exchanged adequate consideration to form a contract. See Employment Contracts.
  • Pennsylvania courts will strictly examine claims of an implied contract by assessing whether all of the requisite contractual elements are satisfied. See Implied Contracts.
  • The provisions of an employee handbook or policy manual can form the basis for a contractual employment relationship in Pennsylvania, so long as the employee can satisfy an evidentiary burden. See Employee Handbooks.
  • Pennsylvania 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.
  • Pennsylvania does not recognize the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing as it may pertain to employment relationships. See Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.
  • Pennsylvania recognizes the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress, but does not recognize the tort of promissory estoppel in the employment context. See Exceptions in Tort.