While the termination of an employee may sometimes appear to be wrong, that does not necessarily mean it is wrongful. California is an at-will employment state, meaning that unless an employee and employer have a contract specifying the length of the employment, or the employment is governed by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the employee can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all.
In California, in order for an employee to pursue a wrongful termination claim, the termination must be motivated by an illegal act. Samples of some of the illegal acts include, but are not limited to:
- Discrimination or harassment based on age, race, gender, disability, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, or other protected class
- Termination for complaining about unlawful conduct or unsafe working conditions
- Termination for complaining about nonpayment of wages
- Termination in violation of public policy
- Violation of family or medical leave laws
- Termination for refusing to engage in illegal conduct