California At Will Employment Lawyers
At Will Employment Exceptions in California
The California at-will employment rule has several important exceptions, including:
- Unlawful Termination – You can’t be fired for an unlawful reason, such as age discrimination, race discrimination, or sexual orientation discrimination.
- Retaliatory Discharge – Generally, you can’t be fired in retaliation for filing a claim for worker’s compensation, family leave or maternity leave, for reporting illegal conduct or unsafe working conditions (whistleblowing), or for reporting or protesting discrimination, harassment, or wage and hour violations.
- Implied Employment Contract – If your employer has promised you continued employment as long as your performance is satisfactory, your employment status might well have changed from one of voluntary employment “at will” to an enforceable implied contract of employment subject to termination only for just cause, such as poor performance or misconduct.
Most employers have internal policies, practices and procedures regarding discipline and termination, many of which may be found in the employee handbook. California Courts have held that such policies, practices and procedures may alter the “at will” nature of the employment relationship. Thus, if your employer has failed to follow its own internal policies, such as a policy of progressive discipline – requiring first a verbal, then written warning prior to termination in all but the most egregious instances – the adverse employment action such as wrongful termination wrongful demotion, etc. taken by the employer may be actionable. Every employment contract, whether at will or not, carries with it an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. That means your employer can’t lie to you about your work performance, your job status or your prospects for promotion.
Contact a California At Will Employment Attorney Today!
Our Los Angeles employee rights attorneys have the experience and skill to analyze your situation to determine whether your status as an “at will” employee may have changed, and whether you’re now working under an express or implied agreement protecting your job status provided your performance is satisfactory. Among the factors we consider in making this determination are the terms of any employee handbooks, printouts and/or manuals, the status of any employees similar to yourself, and any promises the employer might have made to you during a performance evaluation, when you were hired, or when you were being considered for a promotion.
An employer’s promise need not have been made in writing to be enforceable, but the problems of proof are obviously more difficult when no writing exists to support it. If your job is now in jeopardy, or if you’ve been demoted or terminated in circumstances suggesting that you were no longer an employee “at will” but could only be fired for cause, contact the Southern California wrongful termination lawyers at the Law Offices of Rheuban & Gresen.