Vincent W Davis

California At Will Employment

All About California At Will Employment

terminated without just causeMost employees in California are presumed to be employed “at will” which means that they can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, so long as they are not fired for a reason that is unlawful.California law specifies a number of exceptions At Will Employment however, and it is not atypical for an employee’s status to change at some point from being employed “at will” to an employment scenario where the employee can only be terminated for “just cause.” If you believe that you have been terminated without just cause, contact the an worker’s rights attorney at Vincent W. Davis & associates at any of our numerous and conveniently-located offices scattered around Southern California for a free consultation about your specific legal rights.

General Rule of At-Will Employment

Employment in California is presumed to be terminable “at will”, meaning terminable by either party, at any time, with or without cause.  In California this presumption is codified.  “An employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other. Employment for a specified term means an employment for a period greater than one month.”  Labor Code §2922.

Exceptions to At Will Employment in California

The California At Will Employment doctrine has some critical exceptions, including:

  • Unlawful Termination – AN employee cannot be terminated for an unlawful reason, such as age discrimination, racial & ethnic discrimination, gender discrimination, religious discrimination, health and cancer discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, etc.
  • Retaliatory Termination – It is unlawful to be terminated in retaliation for maternity leave, family leave, reporting illegal activities, reporting unsafe working conditions, reporting discrimination, reporting wage and hour violations to the labor board, protesting workplace harassment, even filing a worker’s compensation claim following a work-related injury or accident.
  • Implied Employment Contract – If your employer or supervisor has promised you ongoing employment so long as your job performance is satisfactory, your employment status might legally have changed from “at will employment” to an enforceable “implied employment contract” which would then be subject to termination only for “just cause,” such as misconduct or poor job performance.

Constructive Termination

Employers need not affirmatively terminate employees to incur liability.  If an employee’s resignation is because of “working conditions … so intolerable or aggravated … that a reasonable person in the employee’s position would be compelled to resign,” the employer can be liable for “constructive termination.”  The conditions must be sufficiently extraordinary and egregious to overcome the normal motivation of a competent, reasonable employee to remain on the job.

Misrepresentation Preventing Future Employment

Employers may not make misrepresentations to prevent or attempt to prevent former employees from obtaining employment.

Contact a California Labor Law Attorney

If you find yourself with an employment issue or it is always best to contact a knowledgeable and experienced California employment lawyer for an assessment of your unique situation. Most employment issues can be preliminarily discussed by phone, and then if it is necessary to visit one of our attorneys in person, we have several conveniently-located offices in and around the Southern California counties and cities including, but not limited to:

  • Los Angeles
  • Los Angeles County
  • Orange County
  • Riverside County
  • San Bernardino County
  • Santa Ana</li
  • Beverly Hills
  • Anaheim
  • Irvine
  • Long Beach
  • Pasadena
  • And more…

Arcadia Office
150 N. Santa Anita Ave,
Suite 200
Arcadia, CA 91006
Phone: (626) 446-6442
Fax: (626)-446-6454


Beverly Hills Office
9465 Wilshire Blvd.
Suite 300
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Phone: (310)-880-5733


La Mirada Office
Cerritos Towne Center
17777 Center Court Drive ,
Suite 600
Cerritos, California, 90703
Phone: 888-888-6542


Los Angeles Office
Gas Company Tower
555 West Fifth Street,
31st Floor
Los Angeles, California, 90013
Phone: (213)-400-4132


Long Beach Office
Landmark Square
111 West Ocean Blvd.,
Suite 400
Long beach, California, 90802


Irvine Office
Oracle Tower
17901 Von Karman Avenue,
Suite 600
Irvine, California, 92614
Phone: (949)-203-3971
Fax: (949)-203-3972


Ontario Office
Lakeshore Center
3281 E. Guasti Road,
7th Floor
City of Ontario, California, 91761
Phone:(909)-996-5644


Riverside Office
Turner Riverwalk
11801 Pierce Street,
Suite 200
Riverside, California, 92505
Phone: (909)-996-5644


San Diego
Emerald Plaza
402 West Broadway,
Suite #400
San Diego, California, 92101
Phone: (619)-885-2070


Aliso Viejo
Ladera Corporate Terrace
999 Corporate Drive,
Suite 100
Ladera Ranch, California, 92694
Phone: (714) 721-3822