Montana is unique, which is one of the reasons we love this place so much. Last month this column described something that only happens in Montana law but no other state: marriages when both people can be 10,000 miles apart for the ceremony. This month’s column is about another only-in-Montana law: an employer essentially can’t fire someone for no reason.

“At will” employment means that an employer is free to fire an employee for no reason – the employee is employed at the will of the employer. (There are some things no employer can fire an employee for such as racial discrimination.)

Every other state is an “at will” state in some form or another.

Not Montana.

Under Montana’s Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act, MCA 39-2-901, after a six-month probationary period, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee without an employment contract except “for cause” (meaning the employer had a valid reason).

Translated from legalese, this means an employee who passed a six-month probationary period can only be fired “for cause.” Two exceptions to this are if the employee has a contract (then the contract controls) and if the firing is for racial discrimination or something similar.

For a copy of this Ask An Attorney column, including hyperlinks to the referenced resources, go to

(This information is of a general nature; exceptions to these general statements might exist. This information is for general educational purposes only; no attorney-client relationship with Overstreet Law Group, LLC is formed unless a person enters into a written representation agreement with the firm.)