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Employment At-Will: Virginia

Employment At-Will requirements for other states

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

Author: Michael Barnsback, LeClairRyan PC


  • Virginia adheres strongly to the employment-at-will doctrine, and as a result, has fewer exceptions than are found in federal law or the laws of other states. See Employment At-Will Doctrine, Generally.
  • Verbal promises typically do not overcome the presumption of at-will employment. See Employment Contracts.
  • Virginia employers should utilize employee handbook disclaimers, reminding employees that they are retained at will, despite the provisions of the handbook. See Employment Contracts.
  • Public employees in Virginia have additional rights when it comes to freedom of speech in the workplace. See First Amendment Retaliation.
  • Though Wrongful/Retaliatory Discharge is recognized, it is limited to narrowly defined public policy grounds. See Public Policy Exceptions.
  • Virginia has a contrary view of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing in the employment context. See Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.
  • Virginia recognizes other employment-related claims against employers, including defamation, fraud (promissory estoppel), intentional infliction of emotional distress and intentional interference with a contract. See Exceptions in Tort.