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At-will employment doesn't condone retaliation or discrimination

People who work in California know that this is an at-will employment state. This means that employers can terminate employment without having to have a reason. It also means that employees can quit without a reason. Some people think that this means employers have carte blanche when it comes to dismissing employees. However, this isn't the case.

The law does provide for some very strict reasons why an employer can't fire an employee. These are meant to protect the employee from wrongful termination. Here are some points you should remember about wrongful discharge in California.

Retaliatory and discriminatory discharges are forbidden

Employers can't fire you because you filed a complaint about sexual harassment, regulations that aren't being followed or similar actions on your part. Of course, the claims you make against the employer in these cases must be factual. Lying about the employer just to cause trouble could end up with you being fired.

Another reason why employers can't fire you is for discriminatory reasons. This means that the employer can't fire you because of your race, sex, religion or any other protected status. Even taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act and similar acts isn't a reason why employers can let you go.

Contracts might play a part

If you have a contract for employment with the employer, you should review the terms of the contract to determine if the employer was within the contract terms to fire you. Remember, a contract is legally binding so if the termination goes against that contract, you can opt to take action against the employer.

Written policies must be followed

Most employers have specific guidelines and rules that dictate the disciplinary process and termination process. If these are written out, the employer must follow them precisely. For example, some employers have a policy that there must be three disciplinary actions against an employee before termination unless the actions of the employee were so serious that they warrant immediate termination. In this case, the employer couldn't fire you if you are late once. However, a termination would be suitable if you have been late and faced disciplinary measures for the number of times specified in the termination policy.

In all of these cases, you need to make sure that you are doing your job suitably so that your employment record doesn't show problems. Employers can terminate you for not doing your job.

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