New Jersey is an at-will employment state, meaning your employer can fire you at any time with or without cause. If your employer fired you in breach of an employment contract, however, you may have a valid wrongful termination claim. If you believe that your employer breached your employment contract, turn to Castronovo & McKinney, LLC.
We have extensive experience negotiating and litigating wrongful termination claims, including those arising from a breach of contract. When you meet with us, we will carefully review your employment contract, discover the circumstances leading to your termination, and explore your legal options. Contact our office today to discuss your case with an experienced wrongful termination attorney.
About An Employment Contract & Wrongful Termination
An employment contract is an agreement between an employer and an employee regarding the terms of employment, including:
- Work schedule
- Term of employment (e.g. temporary, permanent)
- Paid time off
- Employment benefits
- Grounds for termination
Employment contracts are typically written agreements, signed by both parties. However, employment agreements can also be verbal or implied by the statements or actions of either party. For example, an employee handbook that states an employee can only be fired for cause may constitute an implied contract.
Breach of Employment Contract and Wrongful Termination
Your employer cannot fire you at will if you were working under the terms of an employment contract that spells out the duration of employment. For example, you may have a wrongful termination claim if the term of your contract was one year with a renewal option, and your employer fired you before the term expired.
Also, an employment contract may stipulate that the employer cannot fire you without just cause.
In other words, the employer must have a justifiable reason for terminating you. For example, your employer can fire you if you failed to fulfill your obligations under the contract (e.g. not providing a service within the stipulated time frame), or if you performed poorly without any sign of improvement.
Suppose your employment contract had a just cause stipulation and you met the performance expectations, but the company fired you in order to replace you with someone at a lower pay rate. You may have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Damages in a Wrongful Termination Case for Breach of Contract
An employee who is wrongfully terminated under the terms of an employment contract may be entitled to monetary damages, which may include:
These damages are the compensation the employee would have received had the contract been performed as promised. For example, if the contract stipulated the employee would be paid $50,000 and they only received $20,000, the employer may be ordered to pay $30,000. However, the employee must take reasonable steps to mitigate damages caused by the breach, for example, finding other work. The amount the employee earned or should have earned is subtracted from the damages awarded.
Some contracts provide for liquidated damages to compensate the injured party for contract breaches that are difficult to value monetarily. An employment contract might include a provision clause that requires an employer to pay the employee a certain amount if they are terminated. Such provisions are rare, however, because determining the employee’s losses in terms of salary and benefits is usually straightforward.
The court may order the employer to pay the employee’s attorney fees and court costs if these damages are specified in the employment contract.
Notably, compensatory damages for pain and suffering and punitive damages are not available in wrongful termination cases arising from breach of contract. However, such damages are available in employment discrimination and harassment claims.
How We Can Help
As a leading employment law practice in New Jersey, we have comprehensive knowledge of employment contracts. Our attorneys will carefully review your agreement to determine whether you were employed at will or whether the contract included a just cause provision. If you have a viable wrongful termination claim, we will guide you through the next steps. While we prefer to resolve employment contract disputes through negotiations, we are always prepared for the possibility of a trial. Above all, we will protect your employment rights in and out of the courtroom.
Contact Our Experienced New Jersey Wrongful Termination Attorney Today
If you were working under an employment contract and wrongfully terminated, trust Castronovo and McKinney to provide informed, effective representation. Because we understand your financial challenges, your initial consultation will be free. Contact us today to learn how we can help.
Castronovo & McKinney, LLC represents employees throughout New Jersey in wrongful termination cases.