Hello, jenc5, and thank you for your question!
May I first advise you to seek the learned counsel of an attorney in
California that specifically deals with employment issues for health
care professionals? Perhaps the California Physical Therapy
Association, http://www.ccapta.org/ , can refer you to someone with
that specific expertise. Indeed, the referral may be a benefit of a
membership that you may have with a professional association and
either had for a reduced rate or (I hope) free!
With the disclaimer said, I believe that you have no legal obligation
to give notice of resignation.
FIRST, the California Labor Code, Section 2922, provides that [a]n
employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at the will of
either party on notice to the other. Even in cases where there is a
contract (and I understand that you are not bound by a contract),
Section 2925 provides that employment for a specified term may be
terminated by the employee at any time in case of any willful or
permanent breach of the obligations of his employer to him as an
Where the employee is an officer of the corporation, the California
Corporations Code, Section 312(b) provides that an officer may resign
at any time upon written notice to the corporation without prejudice
to the rights, if any, of the corporation under any contract to which
the officer is a party.
The reasonable conclusion reached by reviewing the above statutes
would be that the at-will employee status of your situation permits
you to terminate your employment at any time ON NOTICE to the
employer. It does not specify the form of the notice, but obviously a
written notice would be preferable. Note that corporate officers are
required to give written notice.
You can find the California Codes at
Typically employers find themselves in a position arguing the opposite
theory that they have not created any employment contract, either
implied or express. It would be an unusual case indeed where a
corporation could then turn that shield into a sword around and argue
against you that an implied employment contract existed binding you to
the corporation for some term. Certainly, Section 2922 would serve as
an excellent shield if the employer would attempt such a tack.
SECOND, I find no provision in either the California Business and
Professions Code or the Health and Safety Code requiring any notice as
part of the professional licensure statutes of any other provision
concerning physical therapists.
THIRD, as a matter of common law Torts, I cannot imagine that an
action by a patient against you could be brought if that patient were
left hanging by a possible sudden resignation. A Tort action would
most probably be one of negligence, which requires the existence of a
duty I believe that most legal professionals would agree that no
such duty exists between you and your patients as relates to your
continued employment. On the other hand, some duty may exist between
the patient and the corporation as relates to a continued course of
treatment, but even that proposition would be very thin indeed.
HOWEVER, and as I am sure you recognize, your professional standards,
including those promulgated by the state of California, your
professional organizations, and most importantly those of your own, no
doubt include a commitment to the well-being of your patients and
clients. Perhaps a timely notice to your employer of your pending
resignation including a reasonable period of notice (two weeks?) might
permit the care of your clients to go uninterrupted.
REMEMBER that there are many restrictions in the law that limit ones
ability to take customers with them to their new place of employment,
regardless of whether they may or may not have a non-compete agreement
in place. If you were to consider either or both asking current
clients to follow you to a new practice, or to go into direct
competition with your current employer, extreme caution must be
exercised and legal assistance sought before-hand on that specific
As a summary, you have no duty under the law, as far as I can
determine, to give notice to your current employer. Prudence may
suggest that a reasonable amount of notice to the employer should be
Best of luck if you do decide to move on!! Again, thanks for visiting
Search Terms Used:
Westlaw search: California and Implied Contract and Employment