California is an at-will state for employment. Although companies and individuals sometimes execute contracts with one another, state law allows for companies or workers to terminate employment arrangements for any reason or no reason at all.
Your at-will status as a worker might make you think you have few rights when you lose your job unexpectedly. However, if your employer fired you for illegal reasons like retaliation for reporting harassment or discrimination because of your sex, your race, your age or other protected characteristics, you might be able to fight back against their wrongful termination of your employment.
The three behaviors below could all be warning signs that your employer has decided to target you.
Maybe you reported sexual harassment by your supervisor to Human Resources. Perhaps you recently got into a car crash and submitted medical documentation asking for basic accommodations.
Your employer should both communicate with you about these issues and support you in seeking a resolution to them. When they don’t investigate your allegations or try to accommodate you so that you can stay at work, that could be the first warning that they will target you for termination in the future.
Quarterly or annual performance reviews can help employees improve themselves and give the company leverage to address workers who don’t meet their standards by demanding improvement.
If your job and performance have not changed but the company’s opinion about how you do your work somehow has, that might be a warning sign that they want an excuse to fire you. Giving you lower performance ratings for the same work might just be a very transparent attempt at creating a paper trail that justifies your firing.
Whether your manager starts enforcing a rule against you that they don’t enforce against other employees or the company starts universally applying a rule that they know will affect you the most, their efforts may be an attempt to fabricate a justification for your termination.
Recognizing that you might soon face wrongful termination can help you to document the situation leading up to your firing and to fight back against your termination if your employer violates your rights.