Employers fire employees for many different reasons. While often these reasons are legitimate and reasonable, there are other instances where they may seem unfair and arbitrary. Does an employer even need a reason to fire you in California?
California is an at-will state, meaning that an employer may terminate an employee at any time without reason or justification for terminating an at-will employee. Thus, an employer can fire you if he or she simply wishes to do so without any reason. Most employee handbooks contain a disclaimer of at-will employment. In turn, most employers require employees to sign an acknowledgment of their at-will status.
Even if there is an underlying reason for termination, it can be something unreasonable such as not liking your favorite sports team or the way that you dress. However, the reason for termination may not be illegal under California or federal law. Some examples of illegal reasons for terminating an employee in California include discrimination based on age, sex, gender, religious belief, and sexual orientation.
There are other exceptions to at-will employment. These exceptions include the following:
- Public-sector employees who are protected by civil service laws and agreements between their unions and employer that address discipline and termination.
- Employees who are represented by unions and protected by a collective bargaining agreement that contains a “just cause” standard for termination.
- Employees who have written employment contracts with provisions that require “good cause” for termination.
- Employees whose employers have made statements or acted in such a way to overcome the presumption of employment at-will. Some California courts have found that employer policies or statements have overcome the presumption of employment at will, thus creating an implied contract where the employee may only be terminated for good cause.
Even if you have been fired, you may have been wrongly terminated, harassed, or treated unlawfully. You have rights and options. Moss Bollinger is an employment law firm that works zealously to protect its clients by ensuring that California employers observe all labor and employment laws, California and federal, including those newly enacted laws which employers may not ignore. Contacting and discussing your case with an experienced employment law attorney is often the best way of protecting important legal rights. Moss Bollinger takes pride in holding employers accountable. We work on a contingency basis which means that we only receive a fee if you win your case. Contact Moss Bollinger today by phone at (866) 535-2994 for a free consultation or reach us online.