Many of us have experienced a job loss we felt to be unfair, arbitrary, or misdirected. However, while losing your job is almost never a pleasant experience, there are some situations where an employer crosses the line and violates employment laws designed to protect workers against wrongful termination.
In this article, Northern NJ employment attorney Usmaan Sleemi will discuss what wrongful termination is, examples of actions that could constitute wrongful termination and steps you can take if you feel that you were wrongfully discharged from your job in New Jersey.
20 Examples of Wrongful Termination
New Jersey is an “employment at will” state, which means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time, with or without providing advance notice, for any reason – or at least, for almost any reason.
A critical exception to this rule is that employers may not terminate an employee on a discriminatory basis. That means an employer may not terminate an employee due to the employee’s:
- Affectional Orientation
- Atypical Blood Trait
- Atypical Cellular Trait
- Civil Union Status
- Creed (Religion)
- Domestic Partnership Status
- Gender Expression
- Gender Identity
- Genetic Information
- Marital Status
- Military Service
- National Origin
- Sexual Orientation
These protected classes are established by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD, or NJLAD). In contrast to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which only affects companies with 15 or more employees, the LAD applies to New Jersey businesses of all sizes, even those with only two or three employees. The LAD is also broader in scope than the Civil Rights Act. For example, the Civil Rights Act does not afford any protections based on gender identity, genetic information, or blood/cellular traits, such as the Tay-Sachs trait.
Under the LAD, it is unlawful to terminate an employee due to any of the factors listed above, such as race, religion, age, or sex. If an employer discharges an employee because of his or her religious beliefs, sexual preference, or membership in other protected classes under the LAD, it is called “wrongful” termination.
Racial discrimination, religious discrimination, and other forms of discrimination are often – but not always – at the heart of New Jersey wrongful termination cases. Other than discriminating against an employee by firing him or her, an employer can also retaliate against an employee by firing him or her. For example, an employer might fire an employee as retaliation for whistleblowing, which is the practice of reporting, testifying about, or otherwise exposing illegal, unethical, or fraudulent business practices.
For instance, an employee might “coincidentally” be discharged after he or she reports the dumping of chemicals into a protected water source, the sexual harassment of female employees, the failure to report or repair hazardous job site conditions, or the failure to pay overtime wages to non-exempt employees. A New Jersey whistleblower retaliation attorney can help if you believe you are in this situation.
What to Do if You Were Wrongfully Terminated from Your Job in New Jersey
If you believe that you were wrongfully discharged from your job, or are in imminent danger of being terminated on a discriminatory or retaliatory basis, it’s very important for you to gather as much evidence as possible, particularly dated documentation in paper or electronic form.
For example, it’s a good idea to preserve written statements from, or email threads with, your employer — even if you aren’t sure whether the messages or statements are relevant. A New Jersey wrongful termination attorney can examine the records to determine whether they contain any indicators that you were retaliated or discriminated against in the form of termination.
Your attorney can also help you coordinate with others who may have witnessed indicators that discrimination or retaliation was planned or occurring. For example, one or more people may be able to confirm that your employer took actions, and/or made statements, reflecting a bias toward an individual employee or a group of employees.
Depending on the specifics of the situation, your wrongful discharge lawyer will advise you as to the most effective course of action. It may be necessary to file a lawsuit against your employer, which could result in the recovery of financial compensation, or even your reinstatement at the company.
North New Jersey Wrongful Termination Attorney Representing Employees
Wrongful termination is not only financially and emotionally stressful – but it is also a violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. If you were fired because of your race, your gender, your sexual orientation, your religious beliefs, your national or genetic background, the color of your skin, a disability, your service in the U.S. Armed Forces, or because you “blew the whistle” on your employer, we urge you to contact our law offices immediately for a free consultation concerning your legal options.
To discuss a wrongful termination claim in a free legal consultation, call the Law Offices of Usmaan Sleemi at (973) 866-9415 today.