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Are there limitations to at-will employment?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2024 | Wrongful Termination |

If you are an employee in California, chances are you are hired on an at-will basis. Basically, this means that your employer can terminate the employment contract for almost any reason (or no reason at all). 

While your employer can end the employment for almost any reason, it is important to understand that there are limitations to this provision. If these limitations are stretched, you may seek justice by filing a wrongful termination claim against the employer. 

So, what are the limitations to at-will employment?

Both state and federal laws have restrictions on the grounds upon which an employer may terminate the employment contract. Thus, even if you are an at-will employee, your employer’s reason for termination must meet these legal requirements. Here are some of the limitations of at-will employment:

  • A dismissal that is founded on the employee’s protected characteristics like race, religion, nationality of origin, gender, sexual orientation and disability
  • A dismissal that is founded on employee’s political affiliation or belief
  • A dismissal that follows an employee’s participation in a lawful activity, whistleblowing or cooperating with an investigating agency
  • Dismissal for taking time off that an employee is legally entitled to (like maternity leave)

Simply put, an employer cannot fire you for unlawful reasons. 

So, what do you do if you are a victim of wrongful termination?

To pursue a wrongful termination claim against your employer, it is important that you take certain steps. First, you need to prove that there existed an employer-employee relationship between you and the defendant. Next, you need to provide evidence that the dismissal was wrongful. Finally, you need to file your claim within the statute of limitations period

Getting fired is never easy even if the reasons for your dismissal are justified. If you believe you have been unfairly dismissed from your job, you need to explore your legal options. 

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