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Azadian Law Group
February 15, 2023

California is one of a few states that operate under at-will employment laws, which can have a significant impact on a wrongful termination claim or lawsuit. At-will employment means that either the employer or the employee can end the employment relationship at any time, for any reason that is not illegal. Understanding how these laws can affect a wrongful termination claim is important for California employees.

  • No Implied Contract: Under at-will employment, there is no implied contract between the employer and the employee. This means that employees do not have a guaranteed right to continued employment and can be terminated at any time, as long as the reason for the termination is not illegal.
  • Illegal Reasons for Termination: Although at-will employment gives employers the right to terminate employees for any reason, there are some exceptions. An employee can make a wrongful termination claim if they were terminated for an illegal reason, such as discrimination, retaliation, or harassment.
  • Evidence of Illegal Termination: To succeed in a wrongful termination claim, an employee must provide evidence that their termination was illegal. This may include documentation, witnesses, or other evidence that supports the claim.
  • The burden of Proof: In California, the burden of proof in a wrongful termination case rests on the employee. This means that the employee must prove that their termination was illegal and that the employer’s reason for the termination was a pretext for an illegal action.
  • Statute of Limitations: The statute of limitations for a wrongful termination claim in California is typically one year from the date of termination. This means that employees must file their claim within one year of their termination or risk losing the right to do so.

Examples of Illegal Reasons to Fire Someone in California

None of this is meant to discourage you from filing a claim or lawsuit against an employer for wrongful termination. Even in a state with an at-will employment law, there are many potential reasons an employer may fire a worker that are illegal. The following are just a few examples:

  • Discrimination: Employers cannot discriminate against employees based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or disability. This includes not hiring an employee or terminating an employee based on these characteristics.
  • Retaliation: Employers cannot retaliate against employees who have exercised their legal rights, such as filing a complaint, participating in a lawsuit, or reporting illegal activity.
  • Whistleblowing: Employers cannot terminate employees or not hire employees who have reported illegal or unethical conduct by the employer.
  • Medical Condition: Employers cannot terminate employees or not hire employees based on their medical condition or disability unless it affects their ability to perform the essential functions of their job.

These are just a few examples of illegal reasons for terminating an employee or not hiring an employee in California. If you believe that you have been subjected to illegal termination or not hired based on illegal grounds, it is important to consult with an experienced employment attorney to determine your rights and options. At Azadian Law Group, a Los Angeles employment law attorney will review your case and advise you on how you may proceed. For more information, contact us online.



The following presents an overview of the broad range of employment law cases that our employment law attorneys are experienced at overseeing and favorably resolving.
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