Hall v. UBS Financial Services Inc.Annotate this Case
The South Carolina Supreme Court accepted three certified questions from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina. In this case, Curt Hall sued UBS Financial Services Inc. (UBS) (his former employer) and Mary Reid, a former co-worker, seeking to hold them liable for damages he allegedly incurred when he was fired by UBS. Hall's claims against UBS included one for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and Hall's claims against Reid included one for tortious interference with contractual relations. The certified questions concerned the nature of Hall's at-will employment and the viability of Hall's causes of action in the employment at-will context. Hall did not concede he was an at-will employee. The Supreme Court held: (1) terminable at-will employment relationships are contractual in nature as a matter of law; (2a) the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing may arise in the context of terminable-at-will employment relationships; (2b) an employer's termination of an at-will employee does not constitute a breach of the relationship such that it may give rise to a claim by the former employee against the employer for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (3) potential liability extends to third parties who are not fellow employees of the terminated employee. The Court issued a caveat to its responses to the district court's questions: it answered all questions under the assumption that no exception to the doctrine of at-will employment applies "our answers to these questions do not alter the established rule that, as long as an exception does not apply, an employer may terminate an at-will employee for any reason without incurring liability."