Harless v. First National Bank In Fairmont (1978)
In Harless v. First National Bank, 162 W. Va. 116, 246 S.E.2d 270 (1978), the Court acknowledged the expanding inclination toward an exception to the common law at-will employment doctrine.
The Court recognized that despite the fact that an employer normally has the right to discharge an at-will employee without cause, a discharge may be considered wrongful when the discharge is motivated by the employer's desire to contravene some substantial public policy.
In the syllabus of Harless, the Court stated:
"The rule that an employer has an absolute right to discharge an at will employee must be tempered by the principle that where the employer's motivation for the discharge is to contravene some substantial public policy principle, then the employer may be liable to the employee for damages occasioned by this discharge."
The Court set out the elements of an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim as "one who by extreme and outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional distress to another is subject to liability for such emotional distress, and if bodily harm to the other results from it, for such bodily harm."