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How does California function as an at-will state?

Like many other states in the country, California laws state that employers can fire their staff "at-will". In other words, they can fire one of their employees without needing to give a reason. But many people think that if a state has "at-will" laws, then they as employees do not have any rights or opportunity for legal action when they have been fired. This could not be further from the truth.

What is wrongful termination?

Just because an employer does not need to specify the cause for a termination does not mean that they can have any reason at all for firing a person. Employees are protected under anti-discriminatory laws, which means that they cannot be fired for reasons relating to their sex, gender, race, disability or national origin, among other things.

A fired employee might have a reason to believe that they were fired for discriminatory reasons, even if it had not been stated specifically. If this is the case, then the former employee has every right to bring up the issue before the law.

Other types of wrongful termination, beyond discrimination, include breaching the contract or employment agreement, retaliating to a complaint or grievance by firing an employee or firing an employee for reasons that would go against public policy laws, such as them taking pregnancy leave.

Being fired without a clear reason as to why your employment was terminated can be a disheartening experience. If you suspect that your employment was wrongfully terminated in California, you should preserve any correspondence between you and your former employer for future reference. An attorney can review this information and help you learn more about your legal options.

Source: Mighty recruiter, "At-will Employment and Wrongful Termination Laws in California," accessed Oct. 27, 2017

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