Most states, including California, use at-will employment laws. These apply to the majority of workers in most industries — though there are clear exceptions, such as workers who have a contract.
In a general sense, at-will employment just means that the employee/employer relationship is one that both have entered into because they desire to, and they have the power to end it at any time they wish. The employer does not have to give the employee any advance notice of termination, nor does the employer have to do so when firing the employee.
Employees also have the benefit of at-will employment in that they don’t need a reason to end their relationship with an employer. The employee could simply decide they don’t want to work there anymore and let their boss know they won’t be coming in.
Then how are wrongful terminations still possible?
There are many ways for wrongful termination to happen, even under at-will employment laws. Even though an employer doesn’t need a specific reason to fire a worker, the employer still cannot do so for an illegal reason.
For instance, the employer could decide to fire someone after finding out what religion they observe or what country they came from before immigrating. Both of those are protected classes — religious affiliation and national origin. The fact that the employee is an at-will worker does not change those protections or the fact that firing someone on those grounds is a violation of their rights.
What can you do if you suspect you were illegally fired?
Do you believe that you were wrongfully fired and that your rights were violated? If so, you do have many legal options, and it’s important to know what they are. Talking to an experienced advocate can offer the clarity you need to decide what comes next.