The term "wrongful termination" is misleading because in California employment is "at will," unless there is an employment agreement for a specified term. This means an employer can terminate an employee with or without a specific reason (cause) unless:
1. The termination is based on unlawful discrimination or retaliation, or it violates some other employee rights law; or
2. There is an employment contract providing that the employee cannot be fired without just cause for a specific period of time.
An "at-will" employee can be terminated because he/she does not get along with a supervisor, or even because the supervisor does not like the clothes the employee is wearing. Many employees believe that they have a claim for wrongful termination or harassment simply because the work environment was stressful. However, California generally gives employers the freedom to handle their employees the way that they believe is best, even if the employer is a jerk. The employer does not have to use progressive discipline, allow the employee to present his/her side of the story, or demonstrate that the allegations against the employee are true. In other words, it is not illegal for an employer to be unfair or wrong when it fires an "at-will" employee.