What is Employment At-Will?

Los Angeles At Will Employment | Labor Lawyer in CA
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Los Angeles At Will Employment | Labor Lawyer in CA

At-Will Employment is written into California’s labor code to allow either an employer or an employee to terminate employment at any time and for any reason. While this may seem to grant enormous powers to employers, giving them the right to fire without consequence, wrongful termination is still possible under Employment At-Will and, even in states like California where At-Will Employment is part of the labor code, workers are still protected against discrimination by state and federal laws.

Exceptions to Employment At-Will in California

In the state of California, nearly all workers are employed At-Will. The exceptions to this are:

  • Employees protected by a union. Most union contracts require “just cause” to terminate employment. As such, most employees who are members of a union are protected against the worst abuses of Employment At-Will.
  • Public-sector employees. A majority of public-sector employees are also union members and enjoy the same protections as any worker with a solid union contract. In addition, public-sector employees in California are protected by civil service laws that require certain processes for hiring and firing.
  • Employees with contracts. Employees who have contracts with their employers may enjoy some protections against unexpected termination so long as a “just cause” clause is contained within.

At-Will Employment gives workers and their bosses the freedom to terminate a working relationship without having to go through a lengthy and drawn-out separation process. Sadly, it also opens the door to the underhanded dismissal of employees who have not given management any reason for termination.

It is important to remember that all types of employment discrimination are illegal in California, despite At-Will Employment laws. If you have been fired and you suspect the reasons were not above the board, the Los Angeles employment lawyers at Kirtland & Packard are here to take your case and fight for your rights. We will do everything possible to see justice served.

Right to Work vs. At-Will Employment

While used interchangeably at times, Right to Work and Employment At-Will are two very different things. In Right to Work states, employees who work at union shops cannot be compelled to join the union. In these cases, employees are still protected by the union contract and enjoy the benefits provided by the union, but they do not contribute to the union by way of dues or active participation.

California is not a Right to Work state. This means that closed shops, in which union membership is a condition of employment, can be found throughout the state. However, open shops, where both union and non-union employees enjoy contract protections, can also be found in our state.

Californians are protective of workers’ rights. The last attempt to weaken our employee protections was aimed at bringing modified Right to Work laws via the “Paycheck Protection” initiative in 2012. That effort was soundly defeated by California voters, sending the message that our state continues to value employee protections and wishes to keep in place those laws and codes that do not grant employers greater power to terminate without justification.

Do You Need Help?

Have you been wrongfully terminated? Do you suspect the way you have been or are currently being treated at work is in violation of your rights? If you are being harassed, discriminated against, or otherwise mistreated by your employer, we can help. Our employment attorneys will review your claim free of charge to help you find the best option for moving forward.

Please call Kirtland & Packard at 310-536-1000 to schedule a free consultation at our Redondo Beach office today. We serve Torrance, South Bay, and all surrounding Los Angeles County communities.