New Jersey Wrongful Termination Lawyers
Wrongful Termination Lawyers NJ
Many people think that if they are fired unfairly without proper warning, or by an abusive, arrogant, mean-spirited boss, they have a legal claim for wrongful termination. Unfortunately, that is always not true. At Schall & Barasch, we’ve often had to explain to our clients that what is unfair is not necessarily illegal. While there is no law in the state of New Jersey that prohibits employers from treating their employees badly, that does not mean that a wrongful termination case is impossible. There are certain situations where wrongful termination is certainly valid and can be met with a lawsuit. Below, we’ll explain these situations and conditions to you in more depth.
What is considered wrongful termination in New Jersey?
For a firing to be considered wrongful termination, it must have occurred illegally in the eyes of the law. This means the termination must have either violated a state or federal law that prohibits discrimination or retaliation, or violated the terms and conditions of your employment as stated in your contract.
In order to determine where you stand, you should consult with experienced and knowledgeable wrongful termination / employment lawyers in NJ. You want someone who can sit with you and determine whether your claim for wrongful termination qualifies. We will help you determine whether or not your employer was violating New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Our attorneys will also reference the many other state and federal laws under which relief can be sought.
Can you be fired for no reason in New Jersey?
New Jersey, like all other states in the United States (with the exception of Montana), is an “employment-at-will” state. This means that, with some very important exceptions discussed below, your employer can fire you for “good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all.” In New Jersey, employers don’t necessarily have to have a reason for firing an employee. They also do not need to provide a warning in advance.
Though an employer can terminate an employee at will, they cannot do so if the termination is motivated by some discriminatory or retaliatory reason or if it violates that worker’s contract. For example, some contracts ensure a worker's job security. It might state that they can only be terminated for certain reasons. The employer cannot fire them for unrelated reasons. If the terms and conditions of your employment are violated, you may have a wrongful termination case on your hands. In addition, there are some limited cases in which an employee handbook will be considered an enforceable contract.
How do you prove wrongful termination?
While it is not illegal to treat an employee “unfairly," it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee for his or her race, religion, disability, sex, etc.
It is also illegal for an employer to:
- Subject an employee to a sexually or racially hostile work atmosphere;
- Retaliate against whistleblowers;
- Deny an employee’s rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act;
- Fail to pay an employee overtime pay;
- Refuse to provide “reasonable accommodation” to a disabled employee
- Violate the terms of an employee’s contract or employee handbook.
If you can prove that your employer violated any of these laws, you may be able to prove wrongful termination.
How much can you sue for wrongful termination?
The award you can get for a wrongful termination lawsuit depends on a variety of factors. It can fall anywhere between a few thousand dollars and millions of dollars. It simply depends on the circumstances surrounding your specific situation.
In a case we tried to a jury a number of years ago, we recovered $500,000 for an employee after his company fired him in violation of the progressive discipline system set out in the company’s handbook. Additionally, the skill of your attorneys, and what they are able to prove factors in.
It is difficult for an attorney to provide any financial details without first knowing the particulars of your case. To receive a better estimate based on the details of your case, schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.
How long does a wrongful termination case in New Jersey take?
Again, the length of a wrongful termination case depends on several factors. Some cases may settle in as quick as a couple months, while others may take a year or more to resolve. If a case does not settle, you can expect a wrongful termination suit to last somewhere between one to three years until it gets to trial.
It is important to remember that if you choose to file a wrongful termination lawsuit based on the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, you only have two years from the date of your termination to do so. In some cases, there are even shorter “statutes of limitation.” For example, If you are filing a claim for whistleblower retaliation, using New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”), you only have one year to file. That is why you should obtain a lawyer as soon as possible.
Can I sue for wrongful termination in an employment-at-will state?
New Jersey is an employment-at-will state. This means that businesses may hire or fire employees as they see fit. They do not need to provide cause or justification for termination. Employees may also leave a job without cause or justification without facing legal consequences.
However, there are very important exceptions to this general principle. If an employer fires an employee due to a discriminatory belief or action, the employee may sue for wrongful termination. An employee may also sue the employer if their termination violated terms of their employment contract.
If you believe you were wrongfully terminated but are unsure of your legal rights, speak with a New Jersey wrongful termination attorney.
Wrongful Termination Lawyers
A wrongful termination lawyer is a legal professional who provides legal services to individuals who have been wrongfully fired from their place of employment. Lawyers Richard Schall and Patricia Barasch, between them, have been practicing employment law for more than 50 years. They are highly regarded by their peers. Both have been repeatedly selected as Super Lawyers in the field of employment litigation: plaintiff. They enjoy the challenge of tackling difficult legal issues. They take on the biggest corporations in New Jersey, and protect the contractual rights of their clients.
Contact New Jersey Wrongful Termination Lawyers Schall & Barasch
Do you believe you have an employment contract that your employer violated? You may be entitled to compensatory damages or other relief. The best way to determine whether you have a case is to speak with an experienced attorney directly. At Schall & Barasch, we know the laws of New Jersey thoroughly and are willing to help you understand them, as well. Please contact our firm by clicking on the link, “Tell Us About Your Case,” and completing the online questionnaire.
Richard Schall agues against forced arbitration before the New Jersey Supreme Court