Employees in New Jersey have the right to quit their jobs at any time. Employers also have the right to fire employees anytime and for any reason. However, an employer cannot terminate an employee for an unlawful reason. If an employer fires an employee for an illegal reason, that is considered wrongful termination. An employee who is discharged for an unlawful reason can file a wrongful termination claim against the employer and seek damages. In this article, we look at six examples of when termination might be considered unlawful.
Terminating an Employee in Violation of Anti-Discrimination Laws
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibit employers from discriminating against employees based on, among others, the following protected characteristics;
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
- Family status
If an employer terminates an employee based on their protected characteristics, the employee can file a wrongful termination claim against the employer. You may also have a valid wrongful termination claim if you are fired because of complaining about discrimination.
Retaliation for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
In New Jersey, employees have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim and recover benefits when they suffer a work-related injury or illness. It is against the law for an employer to terminate an employee for invoking their right to workers’ compensation. If an employee is fired after filing a workers’ compensation claim, they may have a wrongful termination claim against the employer. Employers are also prohibited from terminating an employee or threatening to terminate them if they participate in an investigation or agree to be a witness in another employee’s workers’ compensation case.
Constructive Discharge for a Hostile Work Environment
Do you know you may have a valid wrongful termination lawsuit against an employer even if you quit? How? You may wonder. For instance, suppose your working conditions become so intolerable because of discrimination or harassment that you see no other option than to resign. If you quit, that would be considered constructive discharge. Constructive discharge is a type of wrongful termination.
Terminating an Employee for Whistleblowing
Whistleblowing is when an employee reports an illegal practice in the workplace. An example of whistleblowing is when an employee reports discriminatory practices in the workplace to authorities. It is against the law for an employer to fire an employee for whistleblowing.
Terminating an Employee for Taking a Family or Medical Leave
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires eligible employers to provide eligible employees job-protected leave when the employee is ill, needs to take care of a sick loved one, or needs to care for or bond with a newborn. If an eligible employee is fired for taking a family or medical leave, they can file a wrongful termination claim against the employer.
Terminating an Employee in Violation of Public Policy
It is unlawful for an employer to terminate an employee for reasons the society recognizes as illegitimate grounds for termination. Firing an employee for, among others, the following reasons may be considered a violation of public policy;
- Taking time off work to vote
- Taking time off work to serve on a jury
- Serving in the military
Speak to a New Jersey Employment Lawyer
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, contact our experienced New Jersey employment lawyer at the Trabosh Law Firm for a free case evaluation.