New Jersey is an “at will” employment state. Simply stated, this means that employees have the right to resign from a job for any reason and employers have the right to terminate employees for any reason, provided those reasons do not violate rights protected under State or federal law.
This being said, incidents of wrongful termination may occur under certain circumstances. For instance, a termination because of race, creed, gender, disability or other discriminatory reason would be considered “wrongful.” Other examples of wrongful termination include breach of contract or implied contract, defamation of character or “constructive discharge,” meaning an employer allowed changes to working conditions that could cause a reasonable person to resign.
Employees that believe they were wrongfully terminated have two recourses: they can file a claim through the appropriate State agency or file a private lawsuit. The remedies that can be pursued vary according to State laws, the specific violation and the degree of that violation. The remedies include, but are not limited to, punitive damages, lost wages, compensatory damages, reinstatement of position and benefits, court costs and attorney’s fees.
Employers found to be guilty of a wrongful termination are subject to penalties under federal law. Additionally, some states, including New Jersey, impose penalties not covered by federal law. In New Jersey terminations that result from jury duty, whistleblower activities or garnishment of wages are considered wrongful and carry additional penalties that range from fines to jail time.
Because New Jersey is an “at will” employment state, you may need to utilize the services of an experienced attorney. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, contact Kearns Rotolo Law for advice. Protect your rights. Call Kearns Rotolo Law today.