Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired or laid off from their job for illegal reasons. New Jersey’s employment laws protect workers from being terminated on grounds that violate state or federal laws.
Understanding these protections and the concept of wrongful termination is essential for employees in New Jersey who need to be able to recognize and address potential legal violations by their employers.
Causes of wrongful termination
Wrongful termination can occur in various forms, such as firing an employee for discriminatory reasons, violating employment contracts or retaliating against the employee’s protected rights to engage in certain kinds of conduct. New Jersey’s laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on race, color, national origin, age, sex, disability and other protected characteristics. If an employee is terminated based on these protected categories, it may constitute wrongful termination.
Retaliation as a cause of wrongful termination
Retaliation is a common basis for wrongful termination claims. In New Jersey, it is illegal for employers to fire or take adverse actions against employees for engaging in legally protected activities. These activities include filing a complaint or claim against the employer for discrimination, harassment or violation of laws. Participating in an investigation or lawsuit against the employer is also protected.
If an employee is terminated for any of these reasons (or others that are protected), it can be considered retaliatory and thus wrongful termination. For instance, if an employee reports safety violations to a government agency and is subsequently fired, this termination could be considered retaliation. Similarly, an employee dismissed after complaining about discriminatory practices or harassment at work could also have grounds for a claim for wrongful termination due to retaliation.
Proving wrongful termination
To prove wrongful termination, especially in cases of retaliation, an employee must demonstrate a link between their protected activity and their employer’s decision to terminate them. This may involve showing that the termination occurred shortly after the protected activity or that the reasons given for the termination are pretextual and not the true reason for the dismissal.
Employees who believe they have been wrongfully terminated in New Jersey have several avenues for legal recourse. Seeking legal guidance is critical so they can learn their options and better ensure that their rights are upheld.