A claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy is an exceptional remedy available only in certain cases, when the employer has crossed the line by acting illegally towards the employee and, at the same time, in open violation of an important interest of the State of California. The general rule is that employees work at the will of the employer and that termination are not illegal, even if unjust. Even if illegal, a termination will not be deemed to be “wrongful, and allow the employee to recover additional damages, unless the termination involves an important public policy.
The Courts typically require for the conduct of the employer to be morally or ethically wrong. For example, an employee may have a claim for wrongful termination if he or she is coerced to commit a crime; coerced to keep helpful information secret from the public; coerced into engaging in harmful conduct towards others, etc.