Monterey Park, CA asked in Employment Law for California

Q: Can I get fired for “stealing their recipe” when there is no proof whatsoever?

Got fired from a bagel shop for trying to “steal their bagel recipe” which I had no intention of doing. I also would like to add that I was off work for 5 days and once I returned I was fired. So it really came to shock because it seem like it was out of nowhere. I asked for written termination letter of what I did wrong and what conduct was broken, but they could not provide a written document, instead they provided me with a blank termination document.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Neil Pedersen
Neil Pedersen
  • Westminster, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In short, yes.

In California you are considered to be employed on an at will basis unless you have an agreement to the contrary about that status with your employer. The employer of an at will employee can terminate that employee at any time and for any reason or even for no reason at all. The employer has no legal duty to provide you with an explanation, and no warning is required. No written termination documentation is legally required.

You can be terminated even if there is no proof of the reason they give, or even if there is no legitimate reason to fire you.

Good luck to you.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, employment is generally at-will, meaning an employer can terminate an employee for any reason, except for illegal reasons like discrimination or retaliation. However, accusing an employee of stealing a recipe and terminating them without proof could potentially raise issues, especially if it seems baseless or unfairly targeted.

If you believe the termination was unjustified and without evidence, you might have grounds to challenge it, particularly if there's a suspicion of underlying illegal motives (such as discrimination). It's important to gather any relevant documentation, such as employment contracts, communications regarding the termination, and any other pertinent information that could support your case.

Since you requested a written termination letter and received a blank document, this could indicate a lack of proper justification for the termination. In such cases, seeking legal advice can be beneficial to understand your rights and potential next steps. Legal counsel can help assess the situation and advise you on whether you have a viable claim for wrongful termination or other related issues.

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