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Wrongful Termination and Public Policy

An area of employment law that often affects both employees and employers is when an employee is terminated. Our Idaho Employment Attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable about termination laws and the termination process. Our Employment Lawyers in Idaho understand that the termination of an employee will be controlled by either an existing employment contract or Idaho’s “at will” doctrine. However, regardless of which of these applies to the employment relationship, it is illegal for an employer to terminate an employee in violation of public policy. With decades of experience, we are qualified and experienced in representing both employers and employees in preventing a wrongful termination or in resolving a wrongful termination when it occurs.

A wrongful termination in violation of public policy means the termination was illegal based upon current federal or state laws and/or regulations. Our Idaho Employment Attorneys create a team of experience that includes partner Lane Erickson and attorney Kyle Grigsby. The attorneys on our Idaho Employment Lawyer team have earned the highest possible ratings from Martindale Hubbell, AVVO and JUSTIA for their experience, legal ability, and ethics. We have experience in helping employers resolve wrongful termination claims and issues. We are confident that we can help you.

What is Wrongful Termination

The termination of an employee in Idaho is controlled by either an existing employment contract or Idaho’s “at will” doctrine. However, regardless of which of these applies to the employment relationship, it is illegal, or a “wrongful termination” for an employer to terminate an employee in violation of public policy.

According to the Idaho Supreme Court, the right to discharge an at-will employee may be limited by considerations of public policy, such as when the motivation for the firing contravenes public policy. Jackson v. Minidoka Irrigation Dist., 98 Idaho 330 333, 563 P.2d 54, 57 (1977). Public policy of the state of Idaho is found in its constitution and statutes. Boise-Payette Lumber Co. v. Challis Independent School Dist. No. 1 of Custer County, 46 Idaho 403, 268 P. 26 (1928). The public policy expressed therein may serve as a basis for finding an exception to the employment at-will doctrine. See generally, 82 Am.Jur.2d Wrongful Discharge § 19, at 692 (1992). The determination of what constitutes public policy sufficient to protect an at-will employee from termination is a question of law. Quiring v. Quiring, 130 Idaho 560, 566, 944 P.2d 695, 701 (1997).

The public policy exception to the employment at-will doctrine has been held to protect employees who refuse to commit unlawful acts, who perform important public obligations, or who exercise certain legal rights or privileges. Sorensen v. Comm Tek, Inc., 118 Idaho 664, 668, 799 P.2d 70, 74 (1990). The public policy exception to the employment at-will doctrine limits the employer’s right to discharge an employee without cause when the discharge would violate public policy. Mallonee v. State, 139 Idaho 615, 621-622 (Idaho 2004).

In Idaho, there are only a few public policy exceptions that employers and employees need to be aware of which makes it easy to avoid a claim for wrongful termination. These are set forth in the Sorensen case citied above and in some additional cases. See, Thomas v. Medical Ctr. Physicians, P.A., 138 Idaho 200 (2002), and Hummer v. Evans, 129 Idaho 274 (1996).

Generally speaking, based upon the cases cited above, under Idaho Employment Law it is a violation of public policy or a “wrongful termination” to terminate an employee for:

  • Refusing to commit perjury;
  • Filing a worker’s compensation claim;
  • Refusing to date a supervisor;
  • Complying with a Court Ordered Subpoena;
  • Serving on jury duty;
  • Engaging in legal union activities outside of employment hours; and
  • Reporting safety violations or illegal conduct to the appropriate authority;

Our team of Idaho Employment Lawyers have helped numerous clients work through situations involving public policy considerations and have helped resolve workplace issues for our clients concerning wrongful termination. As Idaho employer, if you have questions or concerns about public policy and termination of the employment relationship, our Employment Lawyers in Idaho can help you.

Enlist an Idaho Employment Law Attorney to Help You

If you have questions or concerns about whether a planned or actual termination is in violation of public policy laws, we can help. The experienced Idaho Employment and Labor Law attorney team at Racine Olson are here to help you when you need it most. If you are an employer with an employment law problem, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a consultation with the Racine Olson team of Idaho Employment and Labor Law attorneys in Idaho. You can also email us directly at We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Employment and Labor Law problems.

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