New Jersey is an “employment at will” state, which means that either the employee or the employer can end their working relationship at any point — as long as doing so doesn’t violate a contractual agreement or is a “wrongful” termination because it violates the law.
“Employment at will” has often been criticized as being unfair to workers — and it does tend to favor employers more heavily than it does the average person. For example, many people mistakenly believe that they’re entitled to a write-up or even three warnings before they can be legally fired. That simply isn’t true unless it’s part of your company’s standard procedures (and maybe not even then).
So, how can you tell if you were wrongfully fired? Well, here are some basic examples that may help:
1. You were fired after your employer found out you may have a genetic condition
Employers don’t like it when their employees get sick because that often means making reasonable accommodations and finding a fill-in while the employee is out. Plus, it can raise their insurance costs. So, imagine how an employer might react if he finds out that you carry the “breast cancer gene” or may be carrying some other genetic trait that could lead to illness.
While the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 makes such actions illegal, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
2. You were fired for talking about your wages or working conditions
Some employers will make policies that forbid their employees to discuss their pay or benefits. They may also fire employees who complain on social media or elsewhere about their working conditions or hours. That’s a violation of the law. Employees have a right to “concerted protected activities” that involve creating or maintaining a safe and fair workplace.
3. You were fired due to your race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, pregnancy, disability, age or citizenship status
You’d probably be surprised how many times employers actually think that they have a “right” to fire an employee because of something like pregnancy. Other times, an employer knows they’re in the wrong but will try to force out an employee because of his or her inclusion in a protected class.
None of these actions are acceptable. If you believe you were wrongfully terminated, it’s time to explore your legal options. Contact our office for more information today.