Understanding at Will Employment

Understanding at Will Employment
Dec 27, 2019

Most who work in the Los Angeles area likely feel fairly secure that as long as they meet the general expectations of their jobs, their employer has no cause to fire them. Yet one who holds such a belief may be shocked to one day arrive at work to learn that they have been terminated. If there does not appear to be a valid reason for their employer to have fired them, they may believe that they were wrongfully terminated. Yet is that always the case?

There may not be an easy answer to that question. California follows the philosophy of “at will” employment. Section 2922 of California’s Labor Code states that either party to an employment agreement may terminate said agreement at their will at any time. What this essentially means is that local employers do not need to have a valid reason to fire an employee.

Many working professionals might believe that such a principle places all of the power in a business relationship with the employer. In reality, however, the at will employment philosophy is what allows people to leave their jobs when they wish without needing to provide their employer with a reason for doing (few comprehend, however, that this benefit extends to both sides).

Yet it should be known that there are exceptions to citing at will employment when justifying a firing. Per the National Conference of State Legislatures, an employer cannot mask discriminatory or illegal practices by firing someone at their will (the same is true if firing an employee violates public interests). An employment contract supersedes at will employment. Thus, if guarantees made by an employer imply that one’s employment is secured, then the employee might argue that they have an implied contract.

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