California, like many other states in the country, is an at-will employment state. Although many businesses do sign comprehensive contracts with their workers, California does not mandate employment contracts, nor does it restrict the rights of a company or employees to terminate employment.
At-will employment allows you to quit without providing two weeks’ notice, but it also means that your employer can terminate you without any reason or warning. Either you or the company that you work for could end your employment agreement with no notice and no cause. Does at-will employment prevent you from claiming a wrongful termination?
Why wrongful termination can still occur
State laws regarding employment practices don’t undo employee protections. Yes, the company that you work for can potentially fire you for any reason at all or none whatsoever. However, the reasons for firing you cannot violate your rights under any federal or state employment laws.
Your employer cannot fire you as an act of discrimination because you are over the age of 40, from a certain racial background or a member of a particular religion. They also cannot fire you as a form of retaliation for reporting harassment, discrimination or unsafe work conditions.
Companies that fire employees for illegal reasons will usually try to hide the real motivation for their decision. However, if you can connect your termination with previous employment actions or with certain protected characteristics, you may be able to fight back against your firing. Learning more about California’s wrongful termination law can help you seek justice when you unfairly lose your job.