Most people in California are considered at-will employees. This means that they do not have an employment contract stating a specific time period for their employment. This means that the employee is not contractually obligated to stay for any specific period of time and can quit at any time, just as the employer can terminate the employee for any legal reason.
Usually when a person quits, it is their choice, and, as such, the person is not protected by wrongful termination laws. Such laws typically only apply when the employer fires the employee, but there are circumstances when a person can claim wrongful termination even after quitting. These are known as constructive discharges.
These occur when the work conditions have become so bad that the employee has no other option but to quit. However, this is not simply because the employee does not like the job.
Certain elements must be met before it will before a resignation will be considered a constructive discharge. The conditions must become so unbearable that a reasonable person would quit. Also, the employer must intend to create the intolerable environment. The conduct of the employer must also be illegal. So, generally the environment created must be discriminatory in nature or in retaliation for complaints that the employee made.
Many people in California change jobs each year. This could because they voluntarily quit a job for a better opportunity or because they were fired from a previous job. However, there are unique situations where a person quitting is treated as if they were fired. If that is what occurred, the employee may be entitled to compensation as if they were wrongfully discharged. These cases can be complicated, though, and consulting with an experienced attorney could be beneficial.