At-will employment is both a popular and a practical choice among many employers and prospective employees. It allows employers to set the terms of employment without requiring the employee’s consent, and employees to work without having to sign a long-term contract. In Los Angeles, as in other cities and states, understanding the regulations governing at-will employment is critical to ensure the legality and efficacy of a business’s chosen arrangement.

The UpCounsel network of experienced business attorneys understands the complex legal and practical aspects of such an arrangement and can be relied on to provide the counsel necessary to keep organizations and businesses in Los Angeles in compliance with local and federal laws. Whether you need one-time advice or the insight of an entire freelance legal department, the team at UpCounsel will provide the solutions you need to ensure your workforce is legally employed under the applicable terms.

In this article, readers will gain an understanding of what at-will employment is, how it works and what legal considerations to keep in mind when establishing such an arrangement in Los Angeles.

What is At-Will Employment?

At-will employment is an arrangement where the relationship between the employer and employee is based on periodic remuneration as long as the employment exists. This type of relationship does not have a definitive timeline and either party can end it as long as they provide proper notice. Common reasons for ending an at-will employment arrangement include:

- Inability to perform to the standards expected of the employee.

- Changes in the employer’s direction or employment needs.

- The Employee no longer feels they are a good fit for the business.

At-will employment can be verbally or in writing, and it carries certain implicit guarantees as long as it’s viewed as beneficial to both parties. These include commitments to pay wages, the right to terminate at any time, and the ability to take part in the benefits of the company.

Legal Considerations for At-Will Employment

Although federal laws govern many aspects of employers and employees’ rights, the laws governing at-will employment are mainly crafted and enforced on the state level. In Los Angeles, and all other California cities, the law states that an employer can draft an at-will arrangement that includes any terms and conditions they find suitable. This means that employers have discretion in the way they handle wages, bonuses, vacation time (or lack of it), and other matters.

However, there are still certain regulations that must be abided by, as most states have laws preventing at-will contracts from eliminating certain legal rights. On a federal level, employers must comply with laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. In California, requirements of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, the California Family Rights Act, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, the California Constitution, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, and the California Labor Code all come into play.

It’s important that employers understand these laws, as they may result in legal consequences if disregarded. For example, California law prevents employers from firing employees based on their race, religion, gender, disability, or age. Employers who fail to abide by these laws will be fined and could potentially face a lawsuit.

How to Take Advantage of At-Will Employment in Los Angeles

The at-will employment relationship provides companies and employers with the flexibility to handle the terms of the arrangement according to their specific needs. However, it’s also important to remember that with this flexibility comes great responsibility. Employers must ensure that their operations and practices are not only in compliance with all federal and state regulations regarding employment, but that they also remain in agreement with public policy and the employee’s rights.

Fortunately, the UpCounsel network of experienced business attorneys can provide the guidance necessary to put both employers and employees in Los Angeles in the best position when it comes to an at-will employment contract. Beyond getting individual advice, UpCounsel can also supply an entire freelance legal department, ensuring companies have access to quality counsel. From small businesses to Fortune 1000 companies, organizations of all sizes trust UpCounsel to execute high quality, cost-effective legal services.

To summarize, at-will employment is an advantageous arrangement for both employers and employees, if done correctly. Those in Los Angeles should make sure they are up to date on local regulations—federal laws also apply—and never hesitate to seek legal counsel if they find themselves in need of guidance. The team at UpCounsel can provide just the right levels of support for organizations wishing to take advantage of the at-will employment option.


At-Will Employment,

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