How To Prove Wrongful Termination in New Jersey
March 30, 2021
When an employer terminates a worker’s employment for an unlawful or unethical reason, it may constitute wrongful termination. Proving a claim for wrongful termination can be difficult, as many employees are considered to be “at will” and therefore can be terminated for any reason not contrary to law or public policy. If you’ve been fired for a potentially unlawful reason, you should learn more about how to prove wrongful termination in New Jersey and talk to an employment law attorney about your rights and options.
What Is Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires or discharges an employee for a reason that violates the employee’s contract rights or their rights under statutory law, or for a reason that is considered contrary to public policy.
What Acts May Constitute Wrongful Termination
Firing or discharging an employee may constitute wrongful termination when it involves:
- Terminating an employee based on some legally-protected classification, such as their race, color, national origin, religious beliefs, age, sex/gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, or disability
- Terminating an employee working under a contract for reasons not permitted under the terms of the contract
- Terminating an employee after they exercise their rights under employment or labor law, such as requesting accommodation for a disability, requesting or taking family/medical leave, or seeking to unionize
- Terminating an employee in retaliation for their participation in whistleblowing behavior, such as participating in a government or regulatory investigation, internal investigation, or civil claim against the employer, reporting suspected illegal or unethical behavior by the employer, or refusing to engage in illegal or unethical behavior when directed by the employer
Even if an employer can cite to another lawful basis for an employee’s discharge (such as unsatisfactory performance), if the underlying motivation was an unlawful reason, it is still considered a wrongful termination.
Read more: Is My Workplace Hostile?
Relief Available in a Wrongful Termination Claim
If an employee can show that they were wrongfully terminated from their job, they may be entitled to various forms of relief, including:
- Lost income
- Reinstatement to employment, including back pay, benefits, and seniority
- Injunctive relief to change the conditions in the workplace that led to wrongful termination
- Compensation for emotional distress
- Punitive damages
- Reimbursement of legal fees and expenses incurred in bringing a wrongful termination claim
How an Employment Law Attorney Can Help you with a Wrongful Termination
If you think you’ve been subjected to a wrongful termination, it is critical that you speak to an employment law attorney. Proving that you were wrongfully terminated is often a difficult process, as employers often cite legitimate reasons for terminating an employee, such as poor performance or the need for the company to downsize. When that occurs, an employee who believes they have been wrongfully terminated must prove that an official, legitimate reason for their discharge was merely a pretext for the true unlawful reason for their termination. This often requires using a great deal of circumstantial evidence, including evidence of how other employees in similar situations were treated. An experienced employment law attorney will know what evidence to look for to help prove that a worker’s termination was for an unlawful or unethical reason.
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.