Can you experience wrongful termination in an at-will state?

California has many laws that help protect the rights of workers in addition to federal statutes. However, the state also has laws that aim to make the state an attractive place for businesses to operate.

At-will employment rules balance the needs of employers with those of their staff. Such policies generally allow both employees and the companies that hire them to end a work arrangement with little warning and for most any cause or no cause at all.

Some people think is that living in an at-will employment state means that they can never bring a claim of wrongful termination against their employer. However, there are multiple situations where a worker could bring a wrongful termination claim against a company in California.

When the employer discriminates or violates employment law

Mass layoffs that disproportionately affect one sex, age group or race could be an example of widespread discrimination at the company. Workers could also claim wrongful termination if they get fired for reporting harassment, discrimination or illegal activity in the workplace.

When the company violates a written or implied employment contract or engages in fraud

Perhaps you have a written contract that gives you the right to avoid termination without good cause. An implied contract could be enough for an unjustified firing to result in a wrongful termination claim. If your contract states that you can only be let go for cause or if your supervisor has told you that you can only lose your job for certain actions, a firing for a different cause could violate your rights.

If management lies or creates an inauthentic record to justify firing someone, that can be considered fraud and potentially wrongful termination.

Whether your employer violated your civil rights, broke an explicit or implied contract with you or behave fraudulently, you could potentially have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit as a California worker.

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