In California, you are considered an “at will” employee, meaning that you can be terminated for any reason at all, or for that matter, no reason at all. However, you still have certain protections against wrongful termination.
Unlawful actions center around terminations that violate public policy. What exactly are those public policy issues?
You cannot be terminated legally for refusing to violate a law. If an employer tells you to do something that is illegal and you refuse, you cannot be fired for that reason.
You cannot be terminated for doing a task that you are legally obligated to do. In the course of your work, if you are required to follow a certain law, you may not be legally terminated for obeying that law.
You cannot be terminated for exercising a constitutional right. Examples of this may include engaging in free speech, exercising your right to a political affiliation and many others.
An employer cannot terminate an employee for a number of other reasons as well. Those include:
- An employer cannot terminate you based on race, religion, age, sexual orientation or nationality.
- Family or Medical Leave. Federal law allows most employees to take time off for specific medical or family situations as outlined in the Family and Medical Leave Act.
- If a person files a discrimination claim or reports an illegal act as a whistleblower, under civil rights laws, they cannot be legally terminated for doing so.
- Violating Employee Termination Procedures. In many companies, termination procedures are spelled out in some form of a written policy. When those policies are not followed, it may open the door to file a wrongful termination claim.
Raun Muntz O-Grady LLP serves clients in Los Angeles, Hollywood, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Anaheim, Orange County and communities throughout Southern California.