Is New Jersey an at-will employment state?

Yes, New Jersey is an at-will employment state. Any employee without a written employment contract is considered an at-will employee.

At-will employment means employers are allowed to take certain actions, including firing, demoting, or cutting wages without any cause, as long as the employer isn’t violating any state or federal laws. For example, an employer violates laws if they fire someone based on race, sex, or gender.

Similarly, employees can cut ties with their employer at any time without facing penalties.

If an employment contract exists, both parties must respect the terms of the contract concerning terminations, demotions, and wages.

What qualifies for wrongful termination in New Jersey?

Wrongful termination usually involves the violation of some state or federal law. Several situations qualify as wrongful termination in New Jersey, including, but not limited to:

  • Discriminatory termination
  • Retaliatory termination
  • Breach of contract

Discriminatory termination involves firing an employee because of their participation in or identification with a minority or protected class. State and federal laws exist that make it unlawful to discriminate against an employee based on:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • National origin
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy

If an employer fires you based on one of the above identities, you may have a claim for wrongful termination.

Retaliatory termination involves firing an employee in an attempt to harm them for an action they took. Your employer may want to retaliate against you for filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, filing for workers’ compensation, or making a sexual harassment complaint. It is unlawful to retaliate against an employee.

A breach of contract firing occurs when an employer terminates your employment without regard to the terms of an existing employment contract. If you have an employment contract, it usually includes parameters for termination.

Other situations may be deemed wrongful termination as well. Therefore, if you believe you’ve been fired wrongfully, it’s best to discuss your circumstances with a skilled employment attorney for guidance.

How do I prove wrongful termination?

To have a strong claim for wrongful termination, you need proof that your termination was, in fact, wrongful.

Certain pieces of evidence can help prove you were wrongfully terminated, like:

  • Employment contracts
  • Communication between you and your employer
  • Employee documentation
  • Other related materials

Evidence depends on the basis of your wrongful termination case. If you believe a piece of evidence or information could help your case, keep it and give it to your lawyer.

What is the statute of limitations on wrongful termination in New Jersey?

A statute of limitations is a law limiting your time to file a lawsuit in court. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations is two years, beginning on the date of your termination.

Failing to file your wrongful termination claim within the specified timeframe can result in losing your right to financial recovery. For this reason, it’s important to make seeking legal aid from an attorney a priority.

What can I recover in a wrongful termination lawsuit?

In a wrongful termination suit, you may be entitled to compensation for:

  • Lost wages
  • Benefits you could have received
  • Overtime pay
  • Emotional distress
  • Attorneys’ fees

Damages are entirely dependent on your circumstances and the details of your case.

Can I be fired for being sick or pregnant?

No, it is unlawful to terminate someone’s employment based on pregnancy. If you are sick during your pregnancy, you are protected by law from being fired for it.

Employees are provided with a certain number of sick days throughout the year. If you are facing an illness that would force you to take more than your allotted sick days, you may consider taking a leave of absence in order to protect your employment.

Can a whistleblower be fired?

No. Firing a whistleblower would be a form of retaliation, which is prohibited by law. If you’re fired as a form of retaliation, you may have a wrongful termination case.