California employees are presumed to be employed “at-will,” meaning they can be terminated at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all, so long as it is not for an illegal reason. Illegal reasons for termination include those based on race, color, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, marital status, gender, pregnancy, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status or service, whistleblowing, in retaliation for complaining about harassment or discrimination, for taking a protected leave of absence, and other reasons established by law.
However, the at-will presumption can be overcome where the employer expressly limits the permissible grounds for termination (e.g. only for “good cause”) or specifies a precise length of employment in, for example, a contract or collective bargaining agreement. In some cases, the employer’s conduct can overcome the at-will presumption, including the employer's personnel policies and practices, the employee's length of service, actions or communications by the employer reflecting assurances of continued employment, practices in the industry in which the employee is engaged, and whether the employee gave independent consideration for the employer's promise to limit its termination rights.
If you have an employment contract, your rights will be dictated by the terms of the contract as well as statutory and common law. If you believe your employer may be in breach of your employment contact, Sarnoff + Sarnoff can evaluate whether you may have a potential lawsuit against your employer. If you are considering signing an employment contract, we can help you understand the terms of the contract, and, if necessary, help you negotiate a better deal. Give us a call at (213) 536-4236, send us an email at email@example.com, or fill out our case evaluation form to find out whether your rights have been violated and if we can help.