If you are an at-will employee in California, you are able to be terminated for any reason and at any time. While this is a basic definition, it is also a blanket statement. Despite how it sounds, there are certain situations when a job termination is wrong and may even be illegal. The National Conference of State Legislatures describes the reasons that at-will employees may be wrongfully terminated.
One of the causes for concern about this type of termination has to do with contracts. If the employee feels that his or her employer, co-worker or supervisor interfered with the contract and induced the dismissal, illegal actions may be claimed. Another way the contract can be violated is if a contract was implied and then violated. Verbal statements offering job security or a violation of named termination procedures can be grounds for a claim.
Public policy may be the most notable factor that supports wrongful termination. If the firing violates a public interest, the action may be illegal. This includes being fired for the following reasons:
- Performing jury duty or another act that is in the public interest
- Refusing to do something that is against the law
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim or exercising another right
- Reporting your employer or place of work for violating the law
If you are an at-will employee and were terminated for any of these reasons, you may have been fired illegally. This information is meant to educate you on your rights and should not be taken as legal advice.