Most employers and workers in California know about the state’s “at-will” employment policy. However, they are not always clear about what “at-will employment” means. Failing to understand the finer points of this policy may lead a company to make a wrongful termination that could land them in hot water. If you’re considering terminating an employee, then it may be helpful to review your company’s practices and procedures to ensure that they comply with state and federal laws.


“At-will employment” means that an employer has the right to end a worker’s relationship with the company for any reason or no reason at all. Workers have a similar right to end their relationship with an employer for any reason or no reason. At-will employment makes it easier for companies and their employees to choose to terminate a relationship that just isn’t working with a large degree of latitude. However, this does not mean that there are no restrictions.


Most of the restrictions in an at-will employment state fall on the employer. Accordingly, while at-will employment seems to guarantee employers the right to terminate for any reason or no reason, there are prohibited actions that, if taken, could result in a wrongful termination lawsuit.


For instance, no one can be fired simply for being a member of a protected class. That means that no one can legally be terminated based solely on their race, nationality, religion or sexual orientation. Most employers already understand this distinction, though it cannot hurt to work with an Orange County employment law attorney to ensure that the company is adhering to the letter of the law.


Unfortunately, terminated employees are not always good at distinguishing what constitutes wrongful termination. They try to bring lawsuits against their former employers, but they don’t always have a solid claim. Usually, their anger and frustration are the result of poor management rather than a wrongful termination.


For instance, an employee who says they were fired after one bad review or after complaining about a new compensation structure may believe they have a claim for wrongful termination. This can become a headache for the employer, especially if they don’t keep good records and properly document disciplinary and termination actions.


If you’re concerned that your procedures for discipline and termination are inadequate, now is the time to have them reviewed by an Orange County employment law attorney. Call FitzGerald Yap Kreditor at (949)788-8900 and ask to speak with Michael FitzGerald or email him at today.  Let us put our three decades of legal experience to work for you in all of your employment law matters.