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Wrongful termination and at-will employment

On Behalf of | Aug 31, 2020 | Employment Law

Many business owners find personnel decisions to be the hardest part of the business. It can be challenging to identify the ideal employee, and it can be even harder to tell the worker that their services are no longer desired.

California is an at-will employment state, but that does not mean that the owner or manager can just fire a worker. Nor is the employer exempt from a wrongful termination suit by a former employee. There are specific regulations for dismissing employees and certain violations that leave the employer open to lawsuits.

Common violations

Employees who consistently underperform may eventually get fired, or it may be an incident that soured the employer-employee relationship. The employer should consider the following when dismissing the worker:

  • Implied contract: Employees who do not have written contracts still may have the verbal implications of job security. The employer may also have a list of procedures in place that outline dismissing an employee.
  • Retaliation: California and many other states have policies against employers retaliating against workers by firing them. This includes reporting employers for labor violations, whistleblowing, or filing a worker’s compensation claim.
  • A good faith covenant: Employers must have a non-discriminatory legitimate business reasons for dismissing an employee.

Violations can lead to lawsuits

If the former employee believes that they were discriminated against, retaliated against, dismissed for unjust reasons, or violated one of the above protocols, they could file a wrongful termination lawsuit. However, employers have the right to dispute any damaging claims made by a former employee, including allegations of wrongful termination.