When going in for a job interview, it is easy to get confused about the terms or duration of employment, what guarantees are in place or job protections there are under state or federal laws. Without an understanding of the terms of employment, a worker may end up losing wages, working without benefits, or losing their job without knowing their legal rights.
For residents of Southern California, it is important to understand the terms of employment and what rights they may have to fight back if they are facing wrongful termination, termination of benefits, changes in wages or contract violations.
What is at-will employment?
At-will employment relationships are those in which an employer may terminate an employee, alter wages, terminate benefits or reduce paid time-off with no notice and no consequence, unless modified by contract or collective bargaining agreement. The at-will presumption exists in all states except Montana, and also allows the employee to leave the job at any time and without notice.
There are exceptions to the at-will presumption:
- Public policy, which shields employees from adverse employment actions that are in the state’s constitution or laws, regulations or codes of ethics
- Implied contract, an unwritten understanding which may be in the form of spoken assurances or written promises in handbooks or policies and practices
- Covenant of good faith and fair dealing, often established by judicial interpretation
In California, both state and federal laws prevent an employer from firing a worker based on a number of factors, including gender, race, religion, age or national origin. Nor can an employer terminate an employee for the reasons of harassment or retaliation.
What are right-to-work laws?
Right-to-work laws exist in many states in order to strike a balance between union-backed jobs and non-union employment. In these states, employees do not have to join a union to secure a job, and unions cannot bar an individual’s employment based on their union membership.
California does not have right-to-work laws, which means that employers may require employees to join a union as a condition of employment. As a state with strong union membership, California has resisted efforts to pass right-to-work laws. These and many other guarantees make California one of the most employee-friendly states in the country.