Can I get fired at any time?

Jun 5, 2018

California is an “at will” state. This means that your employer can fire you for any reason, even no reason at all, so as long as that reason is not illegal (based on gender, race, religion, pregnancy, age, etc…). The “basis” for the termination in relation to these protected classes can be direct (practice of paying women less) or actions that have a disparate impact on a protected class (policy of paying salary based on previous salary history – women are historically paid less than men, so while this is not an outright discriminatory policy, the impact is that women continue to be paid less than men). Here are just a few examples of things an employer may not legally terminate you for:

  • Refusing to commit an act that is illegal (California Labor Code 1102.5 and California Health and Safety Code 1278.5) (e.g. Reporting failure to pay overtime);
  • Utilizing Family or Medical Leave (California Family Rights Act);
  • In retaliation for participating in an investigation for discrimination or harassment
  • Requesting an accommodation for a disability or pregnancy;
  • Filing a complaint with the Labor Commissioner for any right protected by the Labor Code (California Labor Code 98.6)
  • Discussing Salary (National Labor Relations Act)

If you signed a contract regarding your employment, examine it carefully. Look for a paragraph regarding termination and see if it states “for good cause.” If so, this means your employer can only fire you for good cause, which is an added layer of protection from California’s common law “at will” rule. Employee Handbooks or Policy Manuals can also be treated as contracts, so look for the same wording in these documents in order to gain insight into what your rights are at work.

If you feel that you have been wrongfully terminated, please contact our Employment Team. You can also find us on .

Written by : SONIA HAYES

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *