NJ Wrongful Termination Laws

What is NJ Wrongful Termination?

Wrongful termination means a very specific thing under New Jersey law.  Many terminations can be wrong or unfair but that does not make them wrongful under the law.  To have a legal claim, an employee’s termination must break NJ or federal law.  New Jersey and federal law forbid termination of employment due to discrimination, retaliation, or interference with family or medical leave rights.

A NJ wrongful termination due to discrimination means firing an employee 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.

Wrongful termination due to 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.    

Federal law also deems a termination wrongful when an employer fires an employee for taking, or attempting to take, a leave of absence to care for a family member (family leave) or the employee’s own medical condition (medical leave).  The federal law that protects such leaves of absences is called the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

If an employee files a lawsuit for wrongful termination under NJ law, he can recover lost pay, emotional distress damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and costs of suit.  If an employee pursues a claim for wrongful termination under the FMLA, then she can recover double her lost pay as well as attorneys’ fees and costs of suit.

Contact the employment lawyers at Castronovo & McKinney to discuss your NJ wrongful termination claim.