Losing your job through a wrongful termination can be distressing. If you are in this situation, you need to understand your rights and know when you can take legal action against your boss for wrongfully terminating you. A Sattiraju & Tharney employment attorney can help you understand what to expect when you choose this route.
Can Your Employer Fire You?
New Jersey is an at-will employment state. This means that without an agreement or contract, employers can fire an employee for any legal reason at any time. But employers have to follow some restrictions when it comes to employment termination.
When Can You Sue for Wrongful Termination?
New Jersey law gives protections to workers, and termination based on certain reasons can result in an employer facing a wrongful termination lawsuit:
- Discrimination. Employers cannot fire their workers because of their protected characteristics such as color, race, age, gender, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability.
- Retaliation. Employees in New Jersey cannot be fired because they exercised their rights like filing a workplace discrimination or harassment complaint, blowing the whistle against employers with prohibited practices, and reporting safety violations in the workplace.
- Breach of contract. If an employment contract is in place specifying, employment terms and conditions, employers should follow such terms. A violation of these terms can give the employee in question a ground to file a lawsuit.
- Public policy violation. If the termination violates public policy, like termination based on a worker’s refusal to take part in unlawful workplace activities, the worker can file a wrongful termination against their employer.
What to Do If You Think You are a Victim of Wrongful Termination
If you think your employer wrongfully fired you, you should take some steps to protect your legal rights and establish a valid case. First, you must keep records of actions or incidents that can support your claim like witness statements, emails, and performance evaluations. Then, contact an employment attorney to know your rights and options. Your lawyer can evaluate your situation, look into available evidence, and guide you through each step of the legal process.
Typically, you will need to file an administrative complaint with a government agency before you can sue. This agency can be the Division of Civil Rights or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Before you file a lawsuit, your attorney may negotiate with your employer to resolve the dispute without going further.
In New Jersey, you have two years from the termination date to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. Missing this deadline means you may lose your rights to bring a lawsuit and secure compensation.