At-Will Employment in New Jersey
All employees in New Jersey without an employment contract are considered to be at-will employees. This means that an employer has the right to terminate, demote, cut wages, and reduce paid time off for an employee without cause, as long as they do not violate state or federal laws. In turn, at-will employees have the right to terminate their relationship with an employer at any time without penalty. Despite the freedoms that at-will employment offers to employers and employees alike, there are exceptions in New Jersey that prevent unfair labor practices.
Exceptions to At-Will Employment
An employer in New Jersey will be in violation of federal and state laws if they terminate, demote, or otherwise discriminate against an employee due to race, sex, gender identification, national origin, pregnancy, disability, age, military status, or religion. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) offer federal protection to employees in these protected classes.
New Jersey employers are also prohibited from subjecting their employees to actions that violate public policies. For example, an employer who fires, demotes, or harasses an employee for filing a claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits would be in violation of public policy common laws. An employer would also violate these laws if they were to take adverse actions against an employee that reports illegal or corrupt activities of the employer, also known as “whistleblowing”, or refuses to perform illegal or immoral actions required by the employer.
Verbal and Written Statements
Implied contracts and good faith covenants that are expressed verbally or defined in corporate policies, handbooks, or practices can protect an employee from wrongful termination or unfair treatment. An employer that verbally tells an employee they have a job for a definite period of time, or terminates an employee outside of reasons and procedures written in corporate policies or employee handbooks, can be held liable for unlawful termination. Most courts will not honor verbal statements that promise unreasonable employment benefits, but the majority honor verbal and written statements that were made and led the employee to believe they have job security.
Employers in New Jersey can also be held liable for mental and physical health effects that occur from intentional stress placed on an employee. Harassment, micro-managing, or pressure from supervisors or colleagues that exceeds rational levels can cause emotional distress and physical ailments such as depression and digestive issues. Employees that are terminated for these conditions may be able to file a lawsuit against their employer for wrongful termination.
Employment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Advocate for New Jersey Employees
If you suffer discrimination or unfair treatment as an at-will employee, remember that you have protection under federal and state laws. Navigating through the legal system can be daunting and downright confusing, but consultation with a competent and reliable employment lawyer in New Jersey can ensure that your legal rights are protected.
With over 40 years’ experience in employment law, employment lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. have a long history of successful outcomes for our clients. We are staunch advocates for New Jersey employees and dedicate ourselves to providing high quality and reliable legal counsel and representation. Our resolute lawyers will utilize their extensive knowledge of employment law in order to secure the largest amount of compensation owed to you.