Termination of an At-Will Employee

Employers must proceed cautiously when terminating an employee from his or her job, regardless of whether or not the employee was hired at-will. Employers who fail to take the necessary steps to establish its employees’ “at will” status may face threats of litigation with each employee termination. In order to prevent the threat of such lawsuits, employers should consult with an Orange County business attorney to strengthen their status as an at-will employer.

At-Will Employment
An at-will employment promises an employee no definite term of employment, meaning that the employer can fire an employee for any legal reason at any time. The employee also has the option of quitting for any reason without notice.

Under California law, an at-will employee may be terminated at any time without cause, without prior warning or for any legal reason or for no particular reason at all. Where proper at-will employment prerequisites have been completed, the employer can simply inform the employee that “consistent with the terms of your at-will employment, management has made the decision to terminate your employment, and such termination is effective immediately.” The process can be very quick and simple.

At-Will Termination Gone Wrong
Although the termination of an at-will employee can be simple, an employer may find itself in the midst of a lawsuit brought by a disgruntled employee in search of an undeserved windfall. In order to avoid the expense of dealing with such a dispute, effective policies and procedures should be implemented in order to correctly establish the employee as a true “at-will” employee.

In order to avoid court, employers should enlist the assistance of a lawyer to make sure that there is no ambiguity that each employee is an at-will employee and can be terminated at any time, without cause, for any legal reason.

We Can Help
If you wish to strengthen your status as an at-will employer, an attorney can help you draft the contracts, handbooks, policies and procedures you need.

To schedule a complimentary consultation with an Orange County business attorney, please contact the Orange County business attorneys at the Daily Aljian law firm at (949) 861-2524.

Leave a Comment