I was laid off recently because they said the owner of the startup company was no longer going to be funding it. It was due to this decision to halt all cash flow that I was laid off, but I come to find out the company is still operating and the owner is still funding the business. Do I have a case for wrongful termination? I was not even offered severance.
2 Answers from Attorneys
No. If you were an at-will employee, as most employees are unless they have a written contract for employment for a set period of time, an employer can lay off or fire any employee for ANY reason as long as it is not based on a protected class (age, gender, religion, pregnancy, disability, race, etc.) or because you asserted a legal right (example: overtime pay). The employer does not even have to tell you why you are being let go and they don't have to be truthful about the reason. In CA, the employer does not have to pay severance pay unless the company had a contract or policy of doing so. If you did not receive your final paycheck, including any earned and unused vacation or PTO, you may be owed one day's pay for each day you have to wait to be paid - up to 30 days.
in general, unless an employee is civil service, in a union, or has a written employment contract, they are an 'at will' employee that can be disciplined or terminated any time for any reason, with or without ‘cause’, explanation or notice.
There is no law or requirement that companies pay severance. It is a courtesy if paid.