California is an at-will state, so you could be fired quickly; you also have the legal right to quit whenever you want. As long as you don’t have a contract, there is a lot of freedom. However, it’s important to remember that employers still have to follow company policies.
The best way to make things go smoothly is for the employer to be honest and upfront with employees about workplace rules and firing decisions. If the workers know in advance some of the reasons that they may get terminated, it will not really be a shock to them if it happens. If, on the other hand, the rules are hazy or unclear, they may feel that it’s unfair because they did not know that whatever they did warranted that termination.
Employers should also keep in mind that a company that has its own policies regarding firing workers has to adhere to them as if they were the law. For instance, there is no law that says a worker must get a warning before getting fired. If company policies tell them that they can expect one warning, though, then it is a law that the employer has to follow that policy.
This may seem clear, but it can lead to some confusion if an employer just assumes they need to follow general laws and overlooks the policies that the workers were informed of when they first took the job. Those policies are often spelled out in the employee handbook. Since the worker took the job under those conditions, they get extra protection, just as they would if they signed a contract.
If your employer ignored company policies, even while still adhering to the other employment laws, you may still have a wrongful termination case. Make sure you know what steps to take.