Termination in an At Will State – What Are Your Rights?

Does termination in an At Will state like California mean that you can be terminated for any reason without recourse? Fortunately, that is not the case. What does At Will mean in the state of California? What are invalid reasons for termination? Read on to find out if your former employer may have ended your employment illegally.

What Does Employment At Will Mean?

Employment at will means that an employer can fire you for any just cause with a few exceptions:

  • If you work in the public sector, you are likely protected by civil service laws.
  • If you are represented by a union, just cause is defined in the collective bargaining agreement.
  • You may have an employment contract that requires specific causes for valid termination.
  • Your employer may have implied the necessity of a good cause for termination (i.e. the company has a policy of progressively disciplining employees before firing them).

Exceptions to the At-Will Regulations

There are also some common law exceptions that supersede the At Will regulations. For example:

  • If your boss asks you to do something that violates California state law, you can’t be fired for noncompliance.
  • You cannot be fired for reporting a fellow employee for committing a crime.
  • You can’t be fired for handling necessary matters in regard to public interest such as taking a day off from work for jury duty.

Illegal Reasons for Termination

Other illegal reasons for termination include:

  • Discrimination – You cannot be terminated due to your sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, medical condition, race, age, religion, or any other factors such as these.
  • Harassment – You cannot be fired in retaliation for reporting harassment by a fellow employee or executive at the company. This includes reporting both sexual harassment as well as discrimination.
  • Whistleblowers – You cannot lose your employment in retaliation for reporting a violation that affects the health or safety of others. You also cannot be fired for reporting illegal activities.

Help if You’ve Been Wrongfully Terminated.

Your right to work is protected by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. If you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination or harassment in the workplace, LaGuardia Law can help. Call (619) 655-4322 for a consultation.

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