Am I an "At-Will" Employee?

Justin C. Lowenthal

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Business Attorney - Davis, CA

Contributor Level 14

Posted over 2 years ago. Applies to California, 2 helpful votes


In the absence of a written or oral agreement for employment for a specified term (e.g., 2 years) or employment terminable only for specific causes, an employee's employment is presumed to be terminable at the will of the employee or the employer: "An employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other." (Lab. Code Section 2922.) Historically, this statute has been interpreted as granting the employer broad discretion, subject, of course, to several legislative and judicial exceptions to the "at-will" presumption, such as termination to prevent the employee from attaining benefits, for exercising his or her rights or engagement in a protected activity.

Practically speaking, most employees are at-will employees. This means, as an at-will employee, your employment can be terminated at any time, with or without cause, with or without meaningful notice. However, if you have concerns that you were terminated for reasons that are against the law or public policy, it is important that you speak with a labor and employment attorney right away.

Additional Resources

Lowenthal Law Office - Labor and Employment Practice

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Employment law governs employee pay, non-discrimination policies, employment classifications, and hiring and firing at the federal, state, and local levels.

Employee wages

Employee wages are set by the employer but must meet the federal or state minimum wage. Employers must withhold, report, and pay employment taxes.

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