If you were wrongfully terminated, call the employment law attorneys at the Epstein Law Firm in Hackensack, NJ for a consultation.

If you have been fired for your job for reasons that you believe may be unethical or unlawful, you may have a basis to file a claim for wrongful termination. But what are the bases under which an employee might assert a viable wrongful termination claim against their former employer?

What Is a Wrongful Termination?

A wrongful termination may occur when an employee is fired for reasons that violate a statute, public policy, or a contract between the employee and employer. 

In the absence of an employment contract or a collective bargaining agreement, an employee is usually considered to be “at will.” This means that both the employee and employer may terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any reason (including no reason at all). However, courts have ruled that an employer’s right to terminate an at-will worker’s employment is not absolute. Instead, there are reasons for which an employer may terminate a worker that violate the law and are considered wrongful termination. 

Read more: What Does Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Look Like?

Legal Causes of Action Following a Wrongful Termination

A worker may have a valid basis to assert a claim of wrongful termination against their employer if their termination was based on one of the following reasons:

  • Breach of contract -- If an employee and employer have an employment contract that explicitly sets forth the process under which an employee may be terminated or the reasons for which an employee may be terminated, when an employer fails to follow those contractual terms in terminating an employee, it may constitute a wrongful termination and the worker may be entitled to seek relief under a breach of contract claim. 
  • Constructive discharge -- In a constructive discharge, an employee actually resigns their position because the employer created working conditions that no reasonable person would be expected to endure, or knowingly allowed such working conditions to persist. Common examples may include a racially hostile work environment or sexual harassment in the workplace. 
  • Discrimination -- State and federal laws prohibit employers from terminating workers on the basis that a worker is a member of a class of people with a certain characteristic. Some of the protected classes under state and federal employment law include race/color, national origin, religious beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, age (40+), pregnancy, disability, or military veteran status.
  • Violation of company policy -- A worker may have a basis to claim they were wrongfully terminated if they can show that the way in which the employer went about terminating the worker’s employment violated company policy and therefore contravened the workers’ reasonable expectations. 
  • Retaliation -- An employee may have a wrongful termination claim if they can show that they were fired in retaliation for exercising their employment or labor law rights. Examples of retaliation claims include those based on filing a workers’ compensation claim, taking statutorily guaranteed family/medical leave, requesting accommodations at work for a disability, engaging in whistleblowing activity, pursuing unionization or collective bargaining, refusing sexual advances from a supervisor, or refusing to follow instructions to perform an illegal act.

Read more: How to Prove Wrongful Termination in New Jersey

Contact a Rochelle Park Employment Law Attorney to Discuss Your New Jersey Wrongful Termination Case

Although New Jersey employment laws are supposed to provide you with protections in the workplace, it is not always easy to get the rights you deserve. That is why you should speak with a knowledgeable employment lawyer about your situation and get guidance about your rights and options. The experienced employment law attorneys at The Epstein Law Firm, P.A. represent clients in Englewood, Fair Lawn, Fort Lee, Garfield, and all across New Jersey. Call (201) 380-7687 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation about your work injury case. Our main office is located at 340 West Passaic St., Rochelle Park, NJ 07762.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.