What is At-Will Employment?
California is one of 49 states (excluding Montana) that has at-will employment laws. At-will employment means that employers and employees can both terminate an employment relationship for any reason – that is, any reason not prohibited by law. The law does have exceptions to at-will employment, which prohibit an employer from firing you in certain situations or for certain reasons.
First, there are certain employees to whom at-will employment principles do not apply. These include:
- Government and public employees
- Unionized employees with collective bargaining agreements with provisions against at-will employment
- Employees who sign employment contracts that require cause to terminate the employee
Even if an employee does not fall into one of these exempt categories, there are still unlawful reasons for termination that are outside the scope of at-will employment. These can involve termination based on:
- Discrimination for protected factors, including race, sex, age (over 40), sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status, religion, disability, gender identity, and more
- Retaliation for complaining of harassment, discrimination, wage violations, or other unlawful conduct of the employer
- Reasons that violate public policy
- Refusing to engage in unlawful conduct requested by the employer
If you believe that your employer terminated for one or more of the above reasons, they might have violated your rights under California employment laws. Many employers try to convince employees that their firing was simply part of at-will employment to cover up violations of employee rights. This can make it challenging to hold companies liable for employee losses, and all employees should have help from a Walnut Creek employment attorney.
Speak with a Walnut Creek Employment Lawyer Today
If you think that your termination was unlawful, you should not wait to consult with a Walnut Creek employment lawyer at Ratner & Molineaux, LLP. Contact us online or call 925.438.0381 so we can evaluate what happened and advise you of your rights for free.