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What are some illegal reasons for termination?

On Behalf of | Dec 9, 2022 | Employment Law

In an at-will employment state, such as California, employees have the freedom to quit their jobs at any time for any reason. The other side of that is that employers in California are allowed to terminate employees at any time for any legal reason.

If you have been fired by an employer, it may seem like you were fired for no good reason. It is important to remember that even if your termination was unfair or unwarranted, that does not mean it was illegal.

Let us look at some of the illegal reasons for termination in the state of California.


Terminating an employee because of their membership in a protected class is a form of discrimination and is prohibited by law. Protected classes include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Sex
  • National origin
  • Age (over 40)
  • Pregnancy
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation

Breach of contract

Some employees have employment contracts that specify they can only be fired for good cause or for reasons listed in the contract. If your employer terminates your employment in violation of your contract, the termination may be considered illegal.


Employees have a legal right to engage in certain protected activities under the law (e.g., filing a formal complaint regarding harassment). If your employer terminated you for exercising your rights, your termination may be classified as a wrongful termination.

Employment law attorneys are available to help determine whether you were terminated illegally and help you proceed with a legal claim against your employer if your termination was unlawful.