Recognizing Unlawful Termination
New Jersey employees generally work “at will”, meaning that they can be fired at any time for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all. However, employees cannot be fired for an illegal reason and may have a valid wrongful termination claim if the termination constitutes:
- Unlawful discrimination under federal or New Jersey state employment law,
- Breach of contract, or
- Retaliation or a violation of public policy.
The Atlantic County employment lawyers at Levine Staller fight for the legal rights of New Jersey employees who were wrongfully terminated under various circumstances including violations of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJ LAD), the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), common law retaliation, or breach of contract.
New Jersey employees are protected by both federal anti-discrimination statutes and the NJ LAD. The NJ LAD is broader than the federal law against discrimination in that it applies to all employers regardless of how many employees they have, and it prohibits termination of employees based on many protected characteristics including race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, marital status, religion, age and disability status.
To prove that you were wrongfully terminated in violation of the NJLAD, you must establish a prima facie case by showing that:
- You are a member of a protected class;
- You were performing your job according to your employer’s legitimate expectations;
- You were fired despite your adequate performance; and
- Your employer sought a replacement for your position after you were fired.
The Atlantic County employment lawyers at Levine Staller are dedicated to advocating on behalf of employees who were subject to discrimination, harassment, retaliation and other wrongful employment practices. Our attorneys are experienced and skilled in handling wrongful termination complaints.
The New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) is also known as New Jersey’s whistleblower statute. CEPA protects employees from being subjected to demotion, suspension, termination and other forms of sanctions in retaliation for reporting or objecting to an employer’s illegal or unethical conduct, or committing fraud.
New Jersey employers may also be guilty of retaliation if they fire an employee for exercising certain rights such as reporting discrimination or sexual harassment, taking leave to serve in the military, taking unpaid leave for jury duty, taking domestic violence leave (if the employer has 25 or more employees), filing for Workers’ Compensation or taking family or medical leave in accordance with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the New Jersey Family Leave Act (FLA).
Breach of Contract
Employment contracts supersede at-will employment. Therefore, if you can show that your employer breached the terms of your employment contract, you may have a valid claim for breach of contract and wrongful termination.
Even employees who do not have a written or an express employment contract may have a wrongful termination claim based on breach of implied contract. This can be proven by showing that the employer created a reasonable expectation of continued employment either through their words, actions, or statements, and in some cases based upon an employee handbook.
Atlantic County Employment Lawyers at Levine Staller Represent Employees in Wrongful Termination Claims
If you were wrongfully terminated, you may be entitled to damages including equitable back pay, front pay, reinstatement, compensatory damages, legal fees and punitive damages. The Atlantic County employment lawyers at Levine, Staller, Sklar, Chan & Brown, P.A. will work diligently to obtain the best possible outcome in your case. We represent clients throughout Atlantic County, Cape May County, and Ocean County, New Jersey from our office in Atlantic City. Contact us online or call us at 609-348-1300 for a free confidential consultation.