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Oral contracts do give you employment rights

You may think that only a written contract can give you employment rights in New Jersey. While written contracts are often easier to uphold because it's far easier to show that they exist, oral contracts can also give you some rights, especially when it comes to how you can be fired.

The contract doesn't have to be all that official; for instance, the employer does not have to tell you that the following statement is an oral contract before creating it. Just mentioning something casually or while an interview is going on can be enough.

For example, you may ask what you can be fired for when you're first sitting down to consider a job in an interview. If your employer tells you that you'd never be fired without a good reason to do so, this constitutes a contract being in place, even before you accept the job. The reason for this is that you're accepting the job on those terms; if the employer said you could be fired without cause at any time, you may not take it.

Now, if you do your job to the best of your abilities and don't commit any offenses that would warrant your being fired, but you're let go anyway, you may be able to seek compensation or sue the company. They have breached the contract that you were initially given back when you took the job.

It's also important to note that being laid off is not the same as being fired. Even if you've done nothing wrong, you may be laid off if the company doesn't have the money to pay you, and you likely can't sue.

Source: FIndLaw, "Employment Contract Law - Firing an Employee with a Contract," accessed Aug. 19, 2015

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