NJ Employment Law Protections for Employees
Most workers in New Jersey are employees “at will.” Unless a worker is a member of a union, protected by government civil service, or has an employment contract, he or she is employed at will.
At will employment means that an employee can be fired for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all – so long as the firing does not break the law. Under New Jersey employment law, it is illegal to fire an employee due to discrimination or retaliation. Discrimination means firing an employee (or paying them less or refusing to promote them) on the basis of a “protected characteristic.” Legally protected characteristics in NJ include pregnancy, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, race, gender identity, national origin, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, genetic information, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, military service, or refusal to submit to a genetic test by an employer.
Retaliation occurs when an employer takes action that adversely affects the employee’s job, usually termination or some other loss of pay. Whistleblower retaliation occurs when an employer fires an employee for reporting, objecting to, or refusing to participate in an illegal practice of the employer. New Jersey employment law also outlaws retaliation against any employee who reports discrimination or harassment either directly or by cooperating in the investigation of a coworker’s complaint.
Any employee fired in violation of a NJ employment law can hire an attorney to sue in court. Unlike federal law which requires an employee to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the NJ Law Against Discrimination and the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (NJ’s whistleblower law) allow a wronged employee to file directly with the court.
Under New Jersey’s employment laws, an employee can recover lost pay in both the past and the future, money damages for emotional distress, and punitive damages as well as payment of attorneys’ fees and costs of the lawsuit.
Contact the employment lawyers at Castronovo & McKinney to discuss your employee rights in regard to any NJ employment law questions.