Anticouni & Ricotta

What does at-will employment mean for the wrongfully terminated?

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2022 | Wrongful Termination |

Companies have obligations to the people that they employ, and their workers have legal obligations to the business. Both state law and employment contracts help to clarify the specific obligation the worker has to the business that employs them and vice versa. 

California’s at-will employment laws allow workers to leave a job at any time. They also make it legal for a company to terminate a worker with no notice and no history of behavioral or performance issues. Does that mean you can’t take action for what you believe is wrongful termination in California? 

At-will laws do not make retaliation or discrimination legal

Either party in an employment arrangement can make drastic changes to the agreement or terminate it without notice or cause under California law. However, both workers and employers are still subject to federal and state employment laws. 

An employer cannot discriminate against workers or penalize those who report misconduct or harassment on the job. Although companies often won’t honestly tell a worker why they decided to terminate them, the employee’s history with the company can sometimes shed light on the true motive. 

When the timing of someone’s termination or the way that the company handles the complaint makes the termination seem like an act of retaliation or discrimination, the worker may still have the right to bring a wrongful termination claim against the business regardless of the at-will employment laws that govern employment contracts in California. 

Those who have endured mistreatment or who engaged in protected workplace activities, like discussing wages, before their terminations, may have the option of taking action after their firing. Learning more about California’s at-will employment laws can help workers stand up for themselves after retaliation or discrimination negatively impact their career.

FindLaw Network