Employment at Will
Under Labor Code § 2292, in California like in many other states the relationship between and employer and an employee is "at will." This means that unless there is an agreement to the contrary, an employer may terminate an employee's employment or an employee may resign or quit at will and without any reasons. The only exceptions to this rule are those stated here under discriminatory practices. This presumption of "at will" employment can be overcome if the employee can establish that he or she relied to her detriment on a promise of employment or if the employee can establish the existence of an “implied-in-fact” promise by the employer not to discharge him or her. These types of "implied-in-fact" agreements can be oral and can be established by referring to the parties course of conduct. California’s Civil Code § 1621 states "An implied contract is one, the existence and terms of which are manifested by conduct." Courts generally look at the length of service, actions and words of the employer, industry practices and whether the employee gave some kind of independent consideration in addition to the work performed for the employer (i.e. covenant not to compete.) Of course, if the parties have entered into a written "at-will" agreement which has an "integration clause", then such an agreement will probably not be overcome by proof of an implied understanding contrary to the agreement.
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