Benchmark Institute is a training and performance development
organization dedicated to increasing the quality and quantity of
legal services to low-income communities.
Contrary to popular belief, neither federal nor state law
requires an employer to have "good cause" to discharge an employee. As a
result, most job terminations do not constitute "wrongful termination".
Basically, an employer can discharge an employee for any reason or no
reason. This rule's exceptions are based on public policy violations or
An employer cannot fire someone for reasons that violate:
• anti-discrimination provisions of state or federal laws;
• federal labor laws, e.g. in retaliation for union organizing activities;
• retaliation provisions of state laws which protect the employee's right
to exercise their legal rights and file a claim with a government agency
such as Labor Commissioner, DFEH, OSHA or Workers Compensation Board, for
• the employment contract, e.g. contract contains a "good cause" clause;
• a collective bargaining agreement;
• other public policies: for example, an employer cannot fire someone who
has refused to engage
in illegal activities on behalf of the employer, or who has reported such
activity to the authorities.