The U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the federal agency tasked with ensuring that employers do not engage in discriminatory practices. Generally, workplace discrimination laws protect individuals from unfair treatment based on their race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age or disabilities. There are also prohibitions against employers paying women substantially lower wages for equal work performed by men.
Most people are aware of the above-mentioned protected classes, yet many people remain uncertain as to what actually constitutes a discrimination-based wrongful termination. Basically, the same laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against individuals of a protected class are the same ones that also prevent employers from firing, demoting or harassing employees who have complained about such discrimination.
A retaliation can occur when an employer takes an adverse action against an employee of a protected class for their participation in a protected activity. For example, an employer who chooses to terminate a wheelchair-bound employee because they complained of the lack of disability accommodations throughout the workplace.
Another example of retaliation might be an employer who fires an employee for pursuing an EEO charge against a previous employer.
New Jersey workers should know that the state extends protections to even more classes. These include protections for some individuals suffering discrimination regarding their sexual orientation, military service or atypical hereditary, just to name a few.
If you suspect that your employer has retaliated against you by wrongfully terminating your employment, you may be entitled to seek compensation. Your New Jersey employment law attorney can assist you with evaluating the facts of your case and determining whether a wrongful termination has occurred.
Source: U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Facts About Retaliation" Dec. 26, 2014