Jim Kaup is a Topeka-based attorney who represents
Kansas employees in numerous areas of employment
law.  Centrally based in Topeka, Jim can work with
employees from throughout the state of Kansas but
especially those in such cities as Lawrence, Manhattan,
Topeka, Hutchinson, Emporia, Salina, Wichita, Great
Bend and others.  

Employment at Will Doctrine

Until recently, most Kansas employees had no legal
remedy for unjust discharge from employment. A
discharged employee generally could not bring an
action for wrongful discharge because of the traditional
at-will employment doctrine. Under the at-will doctrine,
employment contracts were generally considered to be
terminable at the will of either party, and consequently,
an employer could usually discharge an employee for
any reason, or for no reason, without incurring liability.

An Implied Contract Under Kansas Law

A discharged employee may also avoid the effect of the
at-will doctrine by proving that the contract was not
terminable at-will. Even under the traditional at-will
doctrine, a discharged employee could bring an action
for breach of contract by proving a contract for a
definite term of employment, or a contract for
permanent employment supported by additional

Of course, an employer and an employee can enter into
an express contract which often will be in writing.  The
issue then is to interpret the terms of the employment

The tougher issue is if there is an implied contract
between the employer and the Kansas employee under
Kansas employment law.

Where it is alleged that an employment contract is
implied in fact, the understanding and intent of the
Kansas employer and the Kansas employee is to be
ascertained from several factors, including written or
oral negotiations, the conduct of the parties from the
commencement of the employment relationship, the
usage of the business, the situation and objective of the
parties giving rise to the relationship, the nature of the
employment, and any other circumstances surrounding
the employment relationship which would tend to
explain or make clear the intention of the parties at the
time said employment commenced.

The determination of the intent of the contracting
parties is generally a question of fact and may be shown
by acts, circumstances, and inferences reasonably
deducible therefrom and need not be established by
direct evidence. In Kansas courts, judges are expected
to be cautious in ruling automatically in favor of a
Kansas employer on whether a contract exists.  

Wrongful Discharge Issues in Kansas

Even when an employer does not violate state or federal
discrimination laws, or when there is no actual contract
between it and its employees, it still can be guilty of a
wrongful discharge or termination.  In Kansas, an
employer is liable for wrongful discharge when it
terminates an employee in violation of an important
public policy, and this includes whistle blowing.  Often,
these policies are related to state statutes.  

The best example of wrongful discharge in Kansas is
when an employer terminates an employer for filing a
workers compensation claim or for missing work due to
a work-related injury.  Also, if an employer terminates
an employee for reporting suspected violations of
health and safety laws, the employer might be guilty of a
wrongful discharge or termination--this is a case of
whistle blowing.

Another example of wrongful discharge is when an
employer fires an employee who refuses to engage in an
illegal act.

In all of these examples, the employee can go to court
and challenge his or her termination.  The employee will
have the burden of proof to demonstrate that the
employer did engage in wrongful termination; but, if the
employee can prove this, he or she will be entitled to
damages, and could be reinstated if it makes sense to do

Despite the recognition of exceptions, the at-will
doctrine is still generally recognized, and an
employment contract of indefinite duration will be
presumed to be terminable at the will of the employer
without liability for breach of contract.
James Kaup

Kaup Law Office, LC
214 SW 6th Avenue,
Suite 306
Topeka, KS 66603

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James Kaup
Kaup Law Office, LC
214 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 302
Topeka, KS 66603
The Kaup Law Office
Kansas Wrongful Discharge Law
Jim Kaup is a Kansas licensed attorney located in Topeka, Kansas, who works with Kansas
employees throughout the state of Kansas.  He is available to help Kansas employees in
Atchison, Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan, Emporia, Salina, Hutchinson, Goodland, Great Bend,
Dodge City, and Wichita.  His location in Topeka makes it easy for him to work with employees
in Douglas, Shawnee and Sedgwick counties.  

As the state's Capitol, Jim has access in Topeka to a wide array of legal materials not generally
available in other parts of the state.  Jim has often worked with legislators in Topeka, and
brought cases to the Kansas Supreme Court and the Kansas Court of Appeals, both in Topeka.

Jim has worked on cases involving race discrimination, gender discrimination, age
discrimination, disability discrimination, hostile work environment and sexual harassment;
Family Medical Leave Act; Fair Labor Standards Act; wrongful termination and discharge;
Kansas contract disputes; Kansas unemployment insurance