At-Will Employment and Wrongful Termination

California’s Labor Code specifies that an employment relationship with no specified duration is presumed to be employment “at-will.” This means, at least in theory, that the employer or employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause. There are exceptions to the at-will rule created by statute, the courts or public policy.

Statutory exceptions include terminating an employee for reasons based on the discrimination laws discussed above; for participating in union activity; for refusing to carry out an activity that violates the law.

An employer can potentially reduce exposure to wrongful discharge liability by emphasizing using an at-will language in all written and verbal communications with employees. This extends from job announcements and interviews to employee handbooks, training seminars and employee reviews. It is also advised to avoid references in all situations that indicate job security or permanence.

Additional information and guidelines on at-will employment and other labor management issues can be found by consulting the following sources:

California Labor Law Digest
California Chamber of Commerce
(See contact information above)
Website:http://www.calbizcentral.com 

Division of Labor Standards Enforcement District Offices

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