In California, usually employment is considered to be “at will.” Therefore, an employer is often free to terminate at-will employees for good cause, or bad cause, or no cause at all and the employee is equally free to quit, strike, or otherwise cease work. The termination of an “at-will employment” therefore, does not usually create legal liability. However, the power to terminate at will employment is not always absolute. There are exceptions to at-will employment, such as:
- If there is an express contract between the employer and employee;
- If “promissory estoppel” applies, the employer may be estopped from terminating an at will employee;
- If the reason for termination is unlawful or illegal, such as termination due to discrimination against nationality, race, gender, sex, age, religion, disability and any other protected characteristic;
- If the employee was fired contrary to public policy, such as an employee refusing to do an illegal act, exercising statutory rights, for being a whistle-blower or for engaging in acts encouraged by public policy such a jury duty.
Mr. Lorman has over 20 years experience representing employees who have been wrongfully terminated. If you believe you may have been wrongfully terminated, please call us for a free consultation.