Most of us already understand that we may have to give up certain personal freedoms when we take on a new job. For example, we may be required to work on holidays or weekends. Some of us may be asked to wear a uniform or conform to certain dress code regulations. Naturally, we assume that employers have a right to make such relatively reasonable demands in exchange for our paid services.
However, just because you agreed to your employment does not mean that you should be forced to forgo all of your rights. In New Jersey, employers are prohibited for firing employees on the basis of discrimination. Additionally, employers are not permitted to terminate employees in retaliation of an employee's reporting of some wrongdoing.
New Jersey is known as an "at-will" state when it comes to employment law. In a nutshell, an "at will" state is one in which both the employer and the employee are allowed to terminate employment without having to provide a reason. This generally differs from the rules regarding contractual employees. Employees under contract can sue their employers for a breach of contract if they are fired or laid off in violation of their employment contract.
Unfortunately, most workers are not contract employees. It is often more difficult for those employees to prove that they have been wrongfully terminated. If you suspect that you were fired without reasonable justification, there are a few things that you should know.
Your New Jersey employment law attorney can examine corporate policies and see whether it includes language regarding termination procedures. Many companies observe standardized policies that in effect create certain implied contracts of employment. For example, employees at a company may have operated under the understanding that they would be fired after receiving three written warnings. Although this is not a contract, it certainly implies that an employer will follow a certain procedure before terminating an employee. This is especially true if other employees have been previously terminated using the same process.
Your attorney can review the facts of your case with you and determine whether a wrongful termination lawsuit may be an appropriate legal remedy for your situation.
Source: The State University of New Jersey, School of Law--Newark, "Employment contracts implied in fact" Alan Hyde, accessed Feb. 03, 2015