Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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Employment Laws

Termination of Employment

Employment relationships in South Dakota may be 'terminated at will,' which means an employer does not need a specific reason to fire an employee. This is the same concept as an employee not needing a specific reason to quit a job. Generally, the only exceptions to this rule are when:

  • A contract for employment exists.
  • The employer discharges an employee in retaliation for refusal to commit a criminal or unlawful act.
  • The employee is attempting to take advantage of a lawful right, such as filing a worker's compensation claim.

State (and federal) law also forbids the discharge of any employee because of race, color, creed, religion, sex, ancestry, disability or national origin. In addition, an employee may not be terminated for serving as a juror in any court in the state of South Dakota.

State law also provides some job protection for people who smoke. Any use of tobacco products off the worksite during non-working hours may not be used as a reason to fire an employee. Exceptions may be made only if a non-smoking requirement is important to the work activities of an individual or group of employees, or if a smoking prohibition is necessary to avoid a conflict of interest with any responsibilities to the employer. The law specifically allows a smoking ban for full-time firefighters.

Whether an employee quits or is fired, the law requires that all wages and compensation be paid not later than the next regular stated pay day for which those hours would normally be paid or as soon thereafter as the employee returns any property in their possession which belongs to the employer.


The information provided on this page should in no way be considered legal advice. For specific information about your legal rights, you should consult your personal attorney. If you have a general question, contact us.