how to file a wrongful termination claim

How to File a Wrongful Termination Claim

By Thomas McKinney

Most employees in the U.S. are considered to be “at will.” In fact, in every state except Montana, the default worker classification is at will. An at will employment relationship means an employee can leave a job at any time and an employer can terminate the employment relationship at any time, for pretty much any reason, with some important exceptions. For instance, some workers are protected from termination by union-negotiated agreements, which set forth the terms and conditions of union members’ employment. In other cases, an employee may have an individual employment contract dictating terms and penalties should an employer sever the employment relationship.

Furthermore, while an at will employee may be terminated for pretty much any reason, they cannot be terminated for an illegal reason. In other words, a termination in violation of state or federal law would be considered wrongful termination. There are laws in place at both the federal and state level in New Jersey that protect employees from being terminated for discriminatory reasons. This means that New Jersey employers cannot terminate an employee because of their membership in a protected class without exposing themselves to wrongful termination liability. It also means that employees that have been wrongfully terminated can bring a legal claim seeking remedies for the harm they have suffered as a result of the wrongful termination.

How Do I File a Claim for Wrongful Termination? 

Do you believe you have been wrongfully terminated? If so, there are a few ways you can pursue a wrongful termination claim. For starters, you could file a complaint with either the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights or, at the federal level, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Where you file will depend on the nature of your claim. It is important to note, however, that there are limits on the amount and type of compensation you can recover through pursuing claims with these agencies. As such, you may be unable to recover the full value of your claim if you go this route.

In order to recover the full value of your claim, you may need to file a civil lawsuit. You could do this in state or federal court. In order to support the claim that you were wrongfully terminated, you must be prepared to present evidence that your termination was in violation of state or federal law. Without adequate evidence to support your claim, it will be dismissed. Furthermore, you will need to be prepared for the possibility that your former employer may claim that you were fired for a lawful reason. If this is the case, you will need to be able to prove that the proffered lawful reason is merely a pretext for the illegal reason for your termination. This can be challenging, but not impossible. One good way to show this is by highlighting the fact that other workers outside of your protected class engaged in similar conduct, but were not punished the same way you were. Disparate treatment is a significant red flag in a wrongful termination case.

Contact Our New Jersey Wrongful Termination Attorney Today

If you suspect you were wrongfully terminated, do not delay in reaching out to the employment law team at Castronovo & McKinney. Contact us today to discuss your case. 

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.