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Getting terminated in California

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2023 | Employment Law - Employee, Wrongful Termination

An employee or an employer can terminate employment in California. Some employees choose to leave because they found a better opportunity, decided to work for themselves or took a break from working. Employers can terminate an employee for many reasons, including downsizing, layoffs or firing. There are times, however, when an employer cannot terminate an employee. California is a work-at-will state, but employers still must be careful when terminating employees.


An employer cannot fire an employee based on race, gender, national origin, disability, religion, genetic information, sexual orientation, marital status or age. Furthermore, most employers cannot fire someone because they are disabled or pregnant.

Refusing to take a lie detector test

Most employers cannot fire employees for refusing a lie detector test. Federal law prohibits this action under the Employee Polygraph Protection Act.


It is illegal for an employer to fire an employee because they reported a person or incident to the company’s human resource department. Furthermore, employees cannot be terminated for reporting working conditions to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Taking a leave of absence

Employees who take a leave of absence authorized by the company can only be fired while they are gone if all employees working in a division or location are terminated simultaneously. For example, a person who has taken a leave under the Family And Medical Leave Act cannot be terminated unless everyone else is let go. A person can also not be fired while they are on vacation in accordance with employment law.

Employees or employers can initiate termination of employment. There are several times that an employer cannot fire an employer without opening themselves up to wrongful termination lawsuits.