New Jersey is an at-will employment state, meaning that the relationship between employer and employee can usually be terminated at any time by either party. There are several circumstances, though, under which an employee might have the right to sue for wrongful termination in New Jersey. These include discrimination, retaliation, public policy and breach of contract.
The majority of wrongful termination lawsuits are based on a theory of discrimination in employment. Companies are prohibited from making employment decisions based on the race, sex, color, age, disability, religious practice or pregnancy status of employees or potential employees. Employers in New Jersey also may not fire people for taking family medical leave or due to disabilities that the employer refuses to accommodate.
Employers are also prohibited from firing employees in retaliation for certain actions. For example, a person may not be fired for pointing out unsanitary or unsafe working conditions. They may not be fired for reporting that they’ve not received overtime pay or for refusing to lie for the company.
Additionally, New Jersey has a public policy exception for at-will employment. In operation, this means employers may not fire workers for reasons that the public would not see as reasonable. Under the public policy exception, employers who file for workers compensation benefits may not be fired for doing so.
Employees may also be able to pursue damages for wrongful termination based on a breach of contract. An attorney who has experience in employment law may be able to help interested parties determine if they have claims for monetary damages or other relief under New Jersey law. An attorney may examine the facts of the case for actionable claims, attempt to negotiate settlement with at-fault parties, draft and file necessary legal documents or represent the client during official proceedings in civil court.