California is an “at-will” employment state, which means that employers can generally fire employees at any time, for any reason. Of course, there are many exceptions to this law that you should know about to protect your rights in the workplace. If you are fired for an unlawful reason, it is known as a wrongful termination.
For example, an employer cannot fire you for discriminatory reasons such as the color of your skin, your age, or the religion that you practice. It is also unlawful for employers to fire you solely because you reported discrimination, harassment, wage violations, or unethical behavior in the workplace. In this case, the wrongful termination would be a form of retaliation, which is illegal.
Some employees sign employment contracts which outline exactly how long the employee will have a relationship with the employer, and the conditions in which the relationship can be terminated. Employers who breach an employment contract by firing a contracted employee for a reason that is not included in the contract may face legal consequences for this wrongful termination.
In order to win a wrongful termination case, the victim must be able to prove that the employer was motivated by unlawful reasons and not job performance or any other factor.