While an employer can fire an employee “at will,” one must remember that there are exceptions to it. A California employee who gets terminated may exercise his or her own right to sue his or her employer if the latter does not seriously consider certain exceptions that entail the “at will” setting of employment in the state.
To further understand this, here is the list of some of the exceptions to the “at will” scheme in California employment:
· Employer-employee relationships in many workplaces in California are not always bound by written agreements. If they do, terms and conditions of employment are contained in a written contract. Here, the termination of an employee must be made if the reason is stated explicitly in the contract; otherwise, the termination is wrongful and illegal.
· Aside from a written contract, employer-employee relationships are also bound by “implied” contracts, which are expressed and usually coming from the employer’s thinking. The duration of a worker’s employment with the company, promises of a job promotion, assurance of a continued employment, or a promise of long-term employment at the time of hiring usually comprise implied contracts.
· Wrongful termination in employment happens when there is a breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing. An example of such is when the employer makes conflicting statements with all its employees with regard to the terms and conditions in promotions and salary increases.
· Another exception in the “at will” employment setup in California workplaces is the violation of public policy. Aside from discrimination and harassment, terminating an employee just because the latter attended a trial to serve as a jury member, exercised his or her right to vote, or revealed an illegal activity in the workplace (whistleblower) is not allowed.
Wrongful termination in California is illegal and prohibited under the prevailing state employment and labor laws, such as the Labor Code and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Filing a complaint with the appropriate state agency or consulting with a top wrongful termination lawyer in California would be the best legal action to take.