In Montana employment at-will laws only apply during a probation period that is a standard six months unless otherwise established at the time of employment. Upon conclusion of the probationary period, Montana employers must have “good cause” to terminate an employee’s employment. On March 31, 2021, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed legislation (HB 254) which took effect immediately and revised the state’s Wrongful Discharge Act by adding the following to the definition of what is “good cause” for an employee’s termination:
- Their substantial or repeated violation of an express provision of the employer’s written policies; or
- Other legitimate business reasons the employer determines while exercising reasonable business judgment.
The law also added that for a discharge to be wrongful it must be (in addition to preexisting requirements):
- In retaliation for the employee’s refusal to violate, or reporting a violation of, public policy;
- Not for good cause and the employee completed their employer’s probationary employment period; or
- A substantial violation by the employer of an express provision in its own written personnel policy that resulted in a denial of a fair and reasonable opportunity for the employee to continue working.
The law also specifically grants employers the broadest discretion when deciding to discharge any managerial or supervisory employee along with exemptions, probationary periods in employment contracts, enforcement, and remedy provisions.