What Should Employees Know About Wrongful Termination?

Though New Jersey is an “at-will” employment state, meaning employees can be terminated without cause in certain employment circumstances, there are many instances where employees may have valid wrongful termination complaints. Unfortunately, many terminated workers believe they do not have a wrongful termination complaint when, in fact, they do.

Wrongful termination lawsuits typically stem from employers’ breaking federal or state discrimination laws, employment contracts, or labor laws, including whistleblower laws. Wrongful termination may also apply in retaliation cases stemming from an employee reporting workplace discrimination or safety and labor violations.

Workers are protected from discrimination under federal laws. Employees cannot be discriminated or terminated based on gender, age, gender, disability, race, national origin, religion, or sexual orientation. Many states and localities have revised laws to also include gender identity and sexuality. You may have a case of wrongful termination if the following exists:

  • You have direct evidence that your firing was based on discrimination, through direct spoken or written statements from your supervisor or employer.
  • You can show circumstantially that your firing was discriminatory.
  • Proof that your employer treats similar employees differently, such as permitting younger employees more breaks than older employees.
  • Evidence that your supervisor or employer took bias action or comments against a particular group of employees.
  • Proof that your employer or supervisor spoked or acted in preference for a particular group of employees over others.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also protects workers from firings against retaliation over protected practices, such as reporting illegal behavior or safety violations internally or to outside agencies. You may have a case of retaliation wrongful termination if the following occurred:

  • You reported violations to HR, a supervisor, or government agency, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), prior to being fired.
  • You cooperated or participated in an investigation of company practices prior to being fired.
  • You were discouraged from or threatened with termination if you participated in a government investigation.
  • When you exercised your rights, such as taking medical leave, your employer discouraged or punished you.

Wrongful termination can also arise in the form of breach of contract if workers are fired in violation of existing employment agreements. Even employees without contracts may have a valid claim based on an implied contract, which is based on the employer’s promises through words or actions and whether the employer has a formal employee handbook. You may have a wrongful termination claim if:

  • You were employed under a written contract and terminated in violation of the contract’s allowable termination reasons or procedures.
  • The employer has a formal employee handbook containing policies regarding termination.
  • You received verbal promises guaranteeing employment by your employer or supervisor.
  • Your employer or supervisor made statements regarding specific reasons employees can be fired.

Wrongful termination claims can be complex. People often misinterpret what is considered “wrongful,” such as the employer interpreting work performance differently than the employee, which is not grounds to bring a lawsuit. Termination is only considered wrongful when a clear violation of protected rights can be determined and evidenced.

South Jersey Employment Lawyer at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Represent Wrongfully Terminated Clients

If you believe you were wrongfully terminated from your employment, an experienced South Jersey employment lawyer at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC can help you fight back. Call us at 856-235-7075 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Atlantic City and Mount Laurel, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.