At Ruzicka, Wallace & Coughlin, LLP, we protect the best interests of employers accused of wrongful termination. Our attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation of an employee’s complaint and determine what evidence, if any, the employee has to support his or her allegations. We conduct an early evaluation of the case and help defend your rights to terminate an employee at-will, for business purposes, and for non-discriminatory reasons.
Although employment contracts are generally terminable at will, California courts recognize a narrow exception to this rule: “[A]n employer’s traditional broad authority to discharge an at-will employee may be limited by statute … or by considerations of public policy.” While an at-will employee may be terminated for no reason, or for an arbitrary or irrational reason, there is no right to terminate for an unlawful reason or a purpose that contravenes fundamental public policy. The employee’s remedy in such cases is not merely an action for breach of the employment contract but also a common law tort action for wrongful discharge. The employer’s obligation to refrain from discharging an employee in violation of public policy does not depend upon any express or implied promises set forth in the employment contract. Rather, it reflects a duty imposed by law upon all employers. To establish a claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, a person must prove each of the following:
- An employer-employee relationship;
- Employer terminated plaintiff’s employment (or took other adverse employment action);
- Termination of plaintiff’s employment was a violation of public policy;
- The termination was a legal cause of plaintiff’s damage; and
- The nature and the extent of plaintiff’s damage.