For over a century, the employment at-will doctrine has formed an important part of American jurisprudence. The doctrine, and what some see as its potentially harsh results, have received strong criticism. In some states, courts have used their ability to modify the common law to alter the employment at-will doctrine by creating exceptions based on public policy, the use of employee handbooks, and face-to-face statements by managers that imply a promise of employment. The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Missouri recently gave discharged employees a new way to avoid the almost absolute bar of the employment at-will doctrine. Based on the court’s decision in O’Neal v. Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., plaintiffs may now be able to dance around the barrier of the employment at-will doctrine if they are able to demonstrate fraud. However, this decision, which provides plaintiffs with a new weapon in wrongful termination suits, may be in conflict with previous Missouri law.

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