Is my employer allowed to fire me for no reason?

Yes, your employer can fire you without reason in most cases. It does not matter whether you did anything wrong. Employment in California is “at-will,” meaning an employer can fire at will, i.e., dismiss employees any time for any reason (or no reason) as long as they are not fired for one of the few illegal reasons.

Illegal reasons for firing an employee in California include discrimination or harassment based on a legally protected characteristic such as age, sex, race, national origin, disability, or medical leave. It is also unlawful to terminate a worker in retaliation for reporting illegal workplace misconduct, complaining about unpaid wages, or engaging in certain other protected activities such as voting, providing testimony or military leave.

California’s at-will employment rules apply unless there is a legally binding agreement with set terms defining the employment relationship. For example, some employees have a contract specifying that the employer can only fire them for a good cause. An employee who is fired in breach of a contract may file a wrongful termination claim. Such contracts are more common for CEOs, Presidents, and other top executives.

Historically, employees formed unions to bargain for more rights, including protection from being fired at-will. Being a union member who has entered into a union collective bargaining agreement with your employer means there are specific circumstances under which you can be fired. If you are in a union, be sure to contact your union representative to see if they will help you grieve your termination.

If your employer has fired you for an illegal reason in violation of California law, you may have a wrongful termination claim. Contact a knowledgeable San Francisco employment lawyer to find out whether you may be able to pursue damages. McCormack Law Firm can advise you of your legal rights.

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Client testimonials

This law firm was the only one to answer the phone out of the 15-20 law firms that I called that day. I had a wrongful termination case and Bryan really took the time to listen and understand what happened in my situation, and he knows the law to a T. – Shanic M.

I was owed wages and overtime and my employer refused to pay me. So I hired them to file a lawsuit. Bryan easily understood my very complicated case and I am happy with the results. – Ebi Z.

I didn’t have to pay anything, the firm took the whole risk of managing the case. Through the 14 months, Bryan always kept me updated, was very responsive and patient to questions I had. We achieved a resolution out of court in my favor, making me even happier about the experience. – Peter S.

I can honestly say that my experience with Bryan was all the way positive from day one… We had very high expectations about our case and in the end we got what we hoped for. – Roger J.

I won my trial and I got more than I expected. Everyone in the office is so nice and helpful. Even after everything was finished I could call a few weeks after and ask questions to make sure I was protected and they are more than helpful. – Husain N.

I never had to pay Bryan anything up front, nor was ever pressured to settle early. We ended up settling morning of the trial. Bryan is a really sharp, aggressive, seasoned attorney and knew the law inside and out about whistleblower cases. – Kyle B.