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What is Considered Wrongful Termination?

quitting after leave - The Law Offices of Usmaan Sleemi

A wrongful termination is a cause of action that an employee may have against an employer after being laid off or fired from the company. There are many misconceptions over what is considered a wrongful termination. It is important for employees and employers to have a solid understanding of the New Jersey wrongful termination laws. In this article, our New Jersey wrongful termination attorney explains the most important things to know about our state’s laws on termination. 

Background: New Jersey is an At-Will Employment State

New Jersey is an at-will employment state. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) explains that at-will employment is a legal standard whereby an employer can “terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason.” Assuming that there is no employment contract, an employer can terminate an employee without cause and without notice. However, a New Jersey employer cannot terminate a worker for an illegal reason. 

Wrongful Termination is an Unlawful Termination 

A wrongful termination occurs when an employee has been illegally laid off, fired, or otherwise discharged from their position. As noted previously, employers in New Jersey have broad discretion to make their own personal decisions. However, an employer may be liable for an illegal firing on the grounds of wrongful termination. Some notable examples of reasons that an employee could file a successful wrongful termination claim against an employer include: 

  • Discrimination: An employer cannot terminate a worker for a discriminatory reason. Notably, the New Jersey anti-discrimination statute applies to employers of every size. If an employee is fired or laid off for a discriminatory reason—race, sex, pregnancy, LGBTQ status, etc—they may have a wrongful termination claim. 
  • Retaliation: Workers must be able to exercise certain legally protected rights. Federal and state laws prohibit retaliation (adverse action) against employees who engage in protected activities. Examples include reporting sexual harassment or filing a wage and hour complaint. Retaliation can be the basis of a wrongful termination claim. 
  • Breach of Contract: A valid employment contract is legally enforceable in New Jersey. A breach of contract claim could be the basis of a wrongful termination lawsuit. If an employee is laid off or fired in violation of the terms of their contract, they may be in a position to hold an employer liable for wrongful termination. 

An employee who was wrongfully terminated may be entitled to a number of different remedies, potentially including reinstatement, back pay, and other damages. An experienced New Jersey employment lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of a wrongful termination case. 

Contact Our New Jersey Wrongful Termination Lawyer Today

At the Law Offices of Usmaan Sleemi, our New Jersey wrongful termination attorney represents individuals and small businesses in complex employment law matters. If you have any questions or concerns about wrongful termination, we are here to help. Give us a phone call now or contact us online to arrange a completely confidential case review. With offices Parsippany-Troy Hills and Paramus, we handle wrongful termination claims throughout New Jersey.