In addition to the statutory protections we have mentioned in previous posts, there are also common-law or court-created exceptions to the at-will employment rule. For example, states may recognize certain exceptions to the rule based in public policy, such as termination based on refusal to commit a prohibited act, engaging in acts that are in the public interest, exercising statutory rights or reporting a violation.
Such exceptions may have some crossover with statutory protections, but it is important to be aware that such protections may exist. Minnesota prohibits employers from terminating an employee for refusing to perform actions which the employee objectively believes may violate state or federal law. The benefit from this protection, though, the employee must inform the employer that the order is being refused because of the belief that it is illegal.