Some union collective bargaining agreements will have a last-in, first-out requirement, but outside of that context there is no legal requirement that the last person hired be the first laid off. In fact, that is rarely used as the sole criteria, if at all.
Mr. Doland is correct that your employer can make the decision to terminate you for any reason, or even for no reason. The stated reason is in no way unlawful.
I am sorry for the loss of your job. I wish you good luck in your search for a new one.
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Unless you have a written agreement or benefit from a union contract, California is an "at will" employment state and you can be terminated for no reason at all or any reason so long as it is not based on discrimination such as race, religion, gender, etc.
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Mr. Doland is right. California employment is at will and an employer can fire you for any reason just as long as its not an illegal reason such as race, gender, disability,etc..
My suggestion: call an employment law lawyer for a consultation.
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Many employers will choose to lay off more recently hired employees first, in part to maintain (and acknowledge) the long-time employees' loyalty, and in part because laying off more recent hires makes charging the employer with discrimination very difficult.
But, as everyone else has pointed out, they have an obligation to lay off the most recent hires first if a union contract requires it.
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