South Dakota Termination (with Discharge) laws & HR compliance analysis

South Dakota Termination (with Discharge): What you need to know

South Dakota is a strong “employment-at-will” state (SD Cod. Laws Sec. 60-4-4).
This means that an employer (or employee) may generally terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any reason, unless a contract or law provides otherwise. There are, however, important exceptions to the doctrine of at-will employment recognized by South Dakota that place limitations on an employer's ability to terminate an employee.
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As a general rule, if a federal, state, or local law grants employees the right to engage in an activity or to enjoy a benefit, employees should never be disciplined, discharged, or otherwise retaliated against for requesting or attempting to do so.
To list a few key examples, state law prohibits employers from discharging employees for engaging in the following activities:
Jury duty. An employer may not discharge or suspend any employee for serving as a juror in any court in the state of South Dakota (SD Cod. Laws Sec. 16-13-41.1).
Tobacco use. It is illegal to terminate an employee because the person uses tobacco products away from the workplace during nonworking hours, unless the restriction relates to a bona fide occupational requirement and is reasonably related to the employment activities and responsibilities of a particular employee or a particular group of employees rather than to all employees of the employer, or it is necessary to avoid a conflict of interest (SD Cod. Laws Sec. 60-4-11).
Wage and hour law. Employers may not retaliate against an employee for making a complaint to the employer, for instituting a wage complaint or proceeding, or for testifying in a proceeding under state wage and hour laws (SD Cod. Laws Sec. 60-11-17.1).
Whistleblowing. Public employees may not be retaliated against for reporting a violation of state law to their employer or to the attorney general's office (

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