How do you know if you were wrongfully terminated from your job?
Most people who are suddenly handed their pink slips and shown the door without good cause probably feel wronged in some way. Since New Jersey is an at-will state for employment, which gives both employers and employees the right to end their relationship whenever they please for virtually any non-discriminatory reason, many people think that there is nothing they can do but accept it and move on.
However, that might not exactly be true. A wrongful termination doesn't have to be based on a claim of discrimination -- it can also be based on the fact that you and your employer had either a written or implied contract. If you were fired in a way that violates that contract, you may very well have a good reason to pursue compensation.
For example, many people in the management level of a company have written contracts. You may need to review your contract carefully before you determine if your employer violated the law.
If you didn't have an actual contract, did you have an employee handbook? Those are sometimes given to an employee in an almost underhanded fashion, along with a big pile of other "welcome aboard" documents. A lot of times, employers use employee handbooks to sneak in certain expectations and obligations they want employees to meet. Those same employee handbooks can create a contract by implying that employees who meet those expectations will continue to be employed unless given a just cause for their termination.
Your employee handbook may also entitle you to certain disciplinary measures before you're summarily fired. For example, your handbook may specifically state that you're entitled to a verbal warning, followed by a written warning and then a performance improvement plan before termination. If those steps weren't followed, you could sue for a breach of contract and wrongful termination.
If you suspect that your termination is somehow underhanded and wrong but you just aren't sure, talk to an attorney. He or she may be able to help you make that determination. For more information on how our firm handles wrongful termination claims, please visit our page.