In California, most employees are legally considered to be employed "at will". While the laws related to being employed "at will" can differ from state to state, in California this means that your employer basically has the right to terminate your employment when they like, for any reason they feel warrants it, as long as the reason isn't in violation of your civil rights.
But what are some of the most frequently given reasons that employees are fired from their jobs? Actual examples that may surprise you, according to an article posted on glassdoor.com include things like poor hygiene, coasting through your job with no outward sign of ambition or self improvement, a refusal to cooperate or compromise with your co-workers or clients, and failing to acknowledge the proper chain of command when bringing an issue to the attention of your higher-ups. So how can young employees who may just be starting their careers and entering the workforce avoid making the same mistakes?
● Be honest
This piece of advice actually becomes useful as early as the day your start your job hunt, beginning with your resume or job application. When you exaggerate your experience or fabricate prior employment, it may come back to bite you if it's uncovered later. Other good examples of honesty in the workplace that may lead to your boss or coworkers noticing your integrity on the job include not taking credit for the hard work or success of others, as well as the flipside of that, admitting your mistakes and taking responsibility for them instead of placing the blame elsewhere.
● Be reliable
This applies in a variety of ways to most workplaces - being reliable can mean being at your job, on time, consistently and not taking unexpected or frequent time off during busy times of the year. Your unexpected absences often leave your responsibilities to be covered by your co-workers, who already have a full plate of their own responsibilities to take care of. They may be too polite to mention it to you personally, but you can bet that management has taken note.
● Be respectful
Everyone you work with deserves to be treated with respect, whether you like them on a personal level or not. Learn to compromise with your co-workers, and listen and learn from their constructive criticism. Share the benefits of a big job pulled off successfully with everyone who was involved rather than claim the credit as your own. Choose the high road and don't engage in petty squabbles or spread harmful rumors and gossip that lead to a toxic work environment.
While it undoubtedly sounds very alarming to hear that you can be fired whenever and for whatever reason your employer sees fit, in truth, most of the typical reasons for job termination are fairly common sense and should be easy to avoid.
Know your employment rights
Fortunately for many employees who call it home, many job contracts in California have exceptions to the rule of at-will employment build in to them, and this helps offer a measure of protection and gives you the right to potentially take legal action to seek compensation if you have been wrongfully terminated. Ensuring that you have a thorough understanding of your job contract, following any guidelines included and staying up to date on the policies regarding at-will employment at your own workplace can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your job.
If you have questions about wrongful termination in California or if you would like to speak to an experienced attorney about your own wrongful termination, please contact our offices today for a free case evaluation. We are here to help.