Ask a Business Lawyer. Get Business Law Questions Answered ASAP.
California is an "at will" employment state. That means that any employee can be terminated at any time for any reason that is not against the law, discriminatory, or retaliatory.
A reason that is against the law would be, for example, terminating an employee for refusal to illegally dispose of hazardous waste.
A discriminatory reason would be one based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age; participation in schools or places of worship associated with a particular racial, ethnic, or religious group.
A retaliatory reason would be taking an adverse employment action because someone filed a complaint of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age; participation in schools or places of worship associated with a particular racial, ethnic, or religious group.
If you would like more information about this, it is available at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's website, www.eeoc.gov.
That means that an employer can implement policies such as a "no gossip" policy, employer can terminate an employee who fails to follow that policy.
I am sorry that I don't have better news for your friend about this - especially since talking about the type of car that someone's spouse drives seems very innocuous.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).