In the state of California wrongful termination can be difficult to prove. Due to California’s law assuming that the employer-employee relationship is “at will”, the employer has the right to end employment for the employee for any reason other than ones of discrimination or other illegal reason. Only employees who are hired as members of a union or persons who are hired on terms of an individual employment contract are safe from being fired at the will of their employer.
The employer-employee relationship can be altered depending on certain situations, or practices put into place by the employer. Certain employers will require verbal or written criticisms or complaints about an employee must be made before an individual can be terminated. An employee can be seen as wrongfully terminated if a company did not comply with its own policies. Furthermore, if an employer gives a verbal or written statement of continued employment, the employer-employee relationship could appear to have changed resulting in the employee having reasonable assurance that employment should last. These assurances could be considered modification of the employer-employee relationship and would require the employer to have “good cause” to terminate an employee.
“Good cause” means that the employer must have fair and honest reasoning along with documented evidence, and a chance for the employee to change their behavior, before the employee should be terminated.
Wrongful termination cases are made or broken due to the presence of facts, or lack thereof. In defense of wrongful termination employees should keep copies of employee handbooks, any hiring contracts, or performance evaluations so in the case of a termination an attorney can better assess the situation.