Discipline and termination

State procedures

Are there state-specific laws on the procedures employers must follow with regard to discipline and grievance procedures?

New Hampshire has no specific law on this issue that is applicable to private employers.

At-will or notice

At-will status and/or notice period?

Like most other states, New Hampshire recognizes the at-will employment doctrine. In the absence of an employment contract for a definite term, the at-will relationship may be terminated by either the employer or the employee at any time for any reason not prohibited by law, with or without notice. Requiring employees to provide any specified amount of notice for a resignation would be considered inconsistent with the at-will doctrine.

What restrictions apply to the above?

New Hampshire has recognized an exception to the at-will rule for terminations that are in violation of public policy. Employees may have a claim against their employers for wrongful discharge if they can establish that their termination was motivated by bad faith, malice, or retaliation and that it contravenes public policy. See e.g., Cloutier v. A. & P. Tea Co., 121 N.H. 915 (1981).

Aside from common law claims, statutes protect employees in New Hampshire from termination for engaging in the following conduct or for the following reasons:

  • Because of the employee’s status based on age, sex, gender identity, race, color, marital status, physical or mental disability, religious creed, national origin, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law. RSA §§ 354-A:6354-A:7.
  • Retaliation for making a claim of discrimination based on their age, sex, gender identity, race, color, marital status, physical or mental disability, religious creed, national origin, or sexual orientation. RSA § 354-A:19.
  • Taking time off from work for the period of temporary physical disability resulting from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. RSA § 354-A:7(VI).
  • Reporting an employer’s violation of state or federal law, refusing to carry out an employer’s directive where the employee has an objective basis in fact for believing that such action would violate state or federal law, or participating in a related investigation, hearing or inquiry. RSA §§ 275-E:2E:3.
  • Taking time off from work in order to perform active duty in the National or State Guard or Reserve or to participate in Guard or Reserve training. RSA § 110-C:1.
  • Taking time off from work for jury duty. RSA § 500-A:14.
  • Taking time off from work to attend proceedings related to prosecution of a crime. RSA §§ 275:61 et seq.
  • Disclosing the amount of the employee’s wages, salary or paid benefits. RSA § 275:41-b
  • Because the employee is a victim of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking. RSA § 275:71.
  • Because the employee used tobacco products outside the course of employment. RSA § 275:37-a.
Final paychecks

Are there state-specific rules on when final paychecks are due after termination?

If the employer “discharges” an employee, his or her wages must be paid within 72 hours. RSA § 275:44. If the employee voluntarily resigns, is suspended due to a labor dispute, or is otherwise “laid off,” the employee’s wages must be paid on the next regular payday. However, if the employee gives the employer at least one pay period’s notice, the employee must be paid within 72 hours of the last day of employment.  If there is a dispute over the amount of wages due at the time of termination, New Hampshire law requires the employer to pay the amount that is conceded to be due. RSA § 275:45 However, acceptance by the employee of a partial payment does not act as a release of the balance of the wages claimed to be due.