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Employment At-Will: California

Employment At-Will requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: Lisa Pierson Weinberger, Mom, Esq.


  • California has many exceptions to the employment at-will doctrine, making it more difficult to terminate employees than under federal law. See Employment At-Will Doctrine, Generally.
  • Some California employees may be protected by implied employment contracts where they have significant longevity of service and substantial positive feedback from their employers. See Employment Contracts.
  • California courts recognize exceptions to the employment at-will doctrine based on substantial or fundamental public policies. See Public Policy Exceptions.
  • A covenant of good faith and fair dealing is implied in every contract in California, including for cause employment contracts. See Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.
  • California courts recognize other exceptions to the employment at will doctrine arising from various tort claims including fraud, promissory estoppel, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful discharge. See Exceptions in Tort.