“At-will employment” is a phrase referring to the rights of the employer and the employee to terminate the working relationship at any time. Simply put, an employee can quit at any time, and an employer can fire an employee at any time – for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all – but not for an illegal reason. Even if an employee is “at will,” an employer cannot discipline, demote, or fire that employee for any reason that violates public policy.
California and Federal public policies protect workers from retaliation, harassment, discrimination or termination on the basis of:
Sex, gender, sexual orientation or gender-identity
Medical or physical disability
Reporting OSHA or health and safety violations
Being injured on the job, or making a worker’s compensation claim