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California Is an At-Will Employment State. What Does This Mean for Me?

Is California an At-Will State?

California is an “at-will” state. This means that employers are not required to justify their decision for terminating an employee and may do so with notice. Employees are also free to leave their place of employment at any time. As stated in California’s legal code, “An employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other.” However, there are exceptions to this rule!

Exceptions to At-Will Employment

There are several ways that employers and employees can override at-will employments.

Exceptions to at-will employment include:

  • Public-sector employees (those working for the government) when protected by civil services laws and/or by a “memorandum of understanding” between their unions and the agencies that determine disciplines and terminations.
  • Employees in unions who adhere to collective bargaining agreements that contain “just cause” standards for termination.
  • Employees who have written employment contracts requiring “good cause” for termination.
  • Employees of employers who say or do things that override the presumption of employment-at-will.

Let’s focus on the last point to determine what kind of employer actions override the employment-at-will status.

What Overrides Employment-At-Will Status?

Specific employer actions may override an employee’s employment-at-will status. In other words, an employer cannot break the law when firing an at-will employee.

Employers perform unlawful terminations when they fire employees for the following reasons:

As you can see, at-will employment is not as black-and-white as many people believe. Therefore, if you or a loved one is fired under suspect conditions, it’s wise to talk to an employment law attorney about your case.

Reach Out to Aegis Law Firm for a Free Consultation

Aegis Law Firm can review the facts of your termination to determine if foul play was involved. If we believe that your employer acted negligently, we can fight to hold them accountable for their unlawful actions.


Want to talk to an attorney about your termination? Call (800) 543-4829 or complete an online form for a free consultation with Aegis Law Firm!

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