Do You Have Grounds for a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit?
Sometimes employers and employees part ways peacefully; for example, the employee leaves because they have reached retirement age and are financially secure enough to retire, or the employee leaves because they are relocating to another city because of their spouse’s work or to be near family, or maybe even leaving the workforce to spend more time with their young children or to start their own business. If it is the employer’s decision to end the employment relationship, though, the employee is likely to experience some negative emotions about it, if only because the employee now has the stress of finding a new job or depending on credit cards or financial support from family until they can find one. Whether the employer has the right to terminate the employee’s job depends on the details. If you think your employer’s decision to fire you was an act of discrimination or retaliation, contact a New Jersey wrongful termination lawyer.
Downsizing or Discrimination?
New Jersey is an at-will state, which means that employers can fire you for almost any reason, even if you have not done anything wrong. It is against the law, however, for an employer to fire an employee because of a protected characteristic. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), and other laws have defined employment discrimination and the protected characteristics on which employment discrimination is based. These are some examples of legally protected characteristics, which means that it is against the law for your employer to terminate your employment because of them:
- Race or ethnicity
- Sex, gender, or sexual orientation
- Family status, marital status, or pregnancy
If you think that one of these characteristics of yours was your employer’s true motivation for terminating your employment, contact a Red Bank wrongful termination lawyer.
Recession or Retaliation?
It is also illegal for your employer to fire you in retaliation for engaging in a protected activity. These are some examples of protected activities:
- Reporting a workplace safety hazard or other misconduct by your employer
- Filing a discrimination complaint
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim
- Requesting an FMLA leave for medical or family caregiving reasons
- Requesting accommodations for a disability
Severance Pay or Hush Money?
Employers sometimes try to stave off wrongful termination lawsuits by offering laid off employees a separation agreement. The agreement sometimes includes severance pay, usually equivalent to several months of salary and health insurance benefits. Do not sign the separation agreement until after you discuss it with a lawyer. If you sign the separation agreement and accept the severance pay, you lose the right to sue for wrongful termination.
Contact an Employment Lawyer About Wrongful Termination of Employment
New Jersey’s at-will employment laws do not excuse discrimination and employer retaliation. A wrongful termination lawyer can help you exercise your rights if your employer fired you because of a protected characteristic or protected action. McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C.’s employment lawyers are available for a free consultation. Please call our office in Red Bank, New Jersey at 732-842-6500, our Marlton, New Jersey office at 856-985-9800, or our Newark, New Jersey office at 973-787-9040 to find out more.