Attack on the Citadel of the New York State Employment-at-Will Doctrine

Since the 19th century, New York State has been known as the “citadel” of the employment-at-will doctrine. See Martin v. N.Y. Life Ins. Co., 148 N.Y. 117 (1895) (“A hiring at so much a year, no time being specified, is an indefinite hiring; and such a hiring is a hiring at will, and may be terminated at any time by either party.”).

In the intervening decades, statutory exceptions have been created, including federal and state anti-discrimination laws, the National Labor Relations Act, the New York State Taylor Law, and federal and state whistleblower statutes. Nonetheless, New York State courts have continued to enforce the at-will employment doctrine in most other contexts.

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