Understanding at-will employment

On Behalf of | May 20, 2022 | Termination |

Delaware is an “at-will employment” state. This has implications when it comes to the circumstances under which your employer may terminate your employment. The fact that Delaware recognizes employment-at-will also has implications as far as when and under what conditions you may leave your job.

Per the National Conference of State Legislatures, most states in the United States have employment-at-will doctrines in place. These doctrines dictate that employers in those states may fire their workers at any time and for any reason – provided certain circumstances do not exist. Certain exceptions to at-will employment are as follows.


If you entered into a legally binding contract with your employer that has a specific start and end date, your employer may not terminate the contract and fire you before the designated end date arrives. The information in the contract supersedes the information dictated by state at-will employment laws. Delaware recognizes three specific types of contracts: oral contracts, written contracts and implied contracts. Sometimes, wrongful termination allegations arise over disputes about whether a contract is or is not “implied.”


Even in at-will employment states, your employer may not terminate you for any reason that violates your constitutional rights. For example, your employer may not terminate your employment because of your sexual preference, gender identity, race, disability, religion or age.

Employers who wrongfully terminate their employees may face sanctions. Employees whose employers terminate them without due cause may have recourse or protections available at the state level, the federal level or both. However, whether these protections apply depends on how many workers your employer has on staff.