California Labor Code § 2922 establishes the at-will doctrine. We often hear of employers telling employees that California is an at-will state so they can fire the employee for any reason, with or without cause. This is not entirely true. So what does it really mean to be an at-will employee in California? In California, an employer can terminate an employee for any reason except for a reason that violates the law. So when is it unlawful to fire an employee? There are many reasons:
- It is unlawful for an employer to terminate an employee based on gender, race, color, national origin or ethnic origin, sex, marital status, pregnancy, veteran status, and sexual orientation.
- It is unlawful for an employer to terminate an employee because he or she took family or medical leave.
- It is unlawful for an employer to terminate an employee for discussing wages with other employees or because of the employee’s political activity.
- It is unlawful for an employer to terminate an employee for reporting unsafe working conditions or for whistleblowing.
- It is unlawful for an employer to terminate an employee who complains about a violation of law or for reporting to a governmental agency that a violation of law has occurred at the workplace.
These are just a few examples of when it is unlawful for an employer to terminate an employee. There are many more examples throughout California law. The best way to find out if your termination was unlawful is to call an employment lawyer for a free consultation. We would be happy to evaluate your case.