Reasons an Employer Can and Cannot Fire You in New Jersey

Like many other states, New Jersey is an at-will employment state. In such a state, an employer can fire an employee for any reason. However, employers are not allowed to fire at-will employees for unlawful reasons. An employer cannot terminate an employee if the reason for the termination violates state or federal law or public policy.

It is crucial for you as an employee to understand your legal rights and protections. You need to understand the difference between being legally and illegally fired. If you are fired unlawfully, you have the right to file a wrongful termination claim against the employer and recover financial compensation. A qualified employment lawyer can help you with your claim.

Reasons an Employer Can Fire You in New Jersey

The following are some of the reasons an employer can fire you in New Jersey;

Poor Performance

In New Jersey, an employer can terminate an employee who regularly performs poorly and fails to meet job requirements. If an employee fails to perform well despite being given ample opportunity and support to improve, an employer has the right to fire that employee. An employer is not legally obligated to keep an employee who consistently underperforms and fails to meet job requirements.


If genuine financial-related business reasons exist that require downsizing or restructuring, an employer may have the right to fire an employee.


You can be fired if you engage in misconduct such as fraud, theft, or another behavior that violates company policies.

Engaging in Illegal Activities

If an employee engages in illegal activities that are unrelated to their work that could harm the employer’s business, the employer may have the right to fire the employee.

Failing a Drug Test

If you fail a legally acceptable drug test, your employer can terminate your employment.

Reasons an Employer Cannot Fire You in New Jersey

Below are some of the illegal reasons for firing employees in New Jersey;


The NJ Law Against Discrimination (LAD) prohibits employers from firing workers because of their protected characteristics. For instance, an employer cannot fire you because of age, race, gender, color, religion, or national origin.


It is against the law for an employer to fire you for asserting your rights under state or federal law. An employer cannot fire you because you filed a workers’ compensation claim after suffering a work-related injury or illness. An employer cannot terminate your employment because you reported workplace discrimination or testified against them in an investigation. Also, it is against the law for an employer to fire you because you took a medical or family leave.  

Taking Time off Work to Vote

It is illegal for an employer to fire you because you took time off work to vote. If an employer fires you because of taking time off to vote, it would be considered a violation of public policy.

Taking Time Off to Serve on a Jury

Lastly, if an employee takes time off work to serve on a jury, it is against public policy for an employer to fire the employee.

Contact a New Jersey Employment Lawyer

If you or someone you know has been terminated for unlawful reasons, it is crucial that you seek legal advice. Our skilled New Jersey employment lawyer at the Trabosh Law Firm is here for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.