Experienced NJ Wrongful Termination Lawyers
The vast majority of workers in New Jersey are considered at-will employees, who can be dismissed by their employer without warning. Although the termination may feel unfair, it may be completely legal in many cases. However, exceptions do exist. Employees who are members of a protected class or who engage in protected conduct cannot be fired on the basis of those attributes and actions. Employers who violate these rules can be held accountable for wrongful termination. Employees who are found to be wrongfully terminated can receive compensation including back pay, damages for pain and suffering, as well as reinstatement. With offices in Red Bank, NJ, Marlton, NJ, and Newark, NJ, the wrongful termination lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. can help if you have been wrongfully terminated due to employment discrimination, as retaliation from making a complaint, or in violation of an employment contract. We also represent employers who have been charged with wrongful termination or want to prevent these claims. We will help you understand your rights and options and seek the maximum compensation for your situation.
State And Federal Laws Protect Employees From Wrongful Termination Due to Employment Discrimination
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) firmly establishes that an employee cannot be fired because of his or her membership or association with a protected class. Employers who violate this law are subject to serious penalties for employment discrimination, as well as wrongful termination. Classifications protected by the NJLAD include, but are not limited to:
- Race or Color
- National Origin or Ancestry
- Genetic Information
- Sexual Orientation (LGBTQ)
Employees who prevail on a claim under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination are entitled to reinstatement to their previous position, back pay, damages for pain and humiliation, reimbursement for the loss of fringe benefits, and restoration of health and pension benefits.
Additionally, there are federal laws that protect employers with these classifications, and employers can face wrongful termination penalties for violating these laws. These federal laws include, but are not limited to:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- US Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
- Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
Protection From Wrongful Termination as Whistleblower Retaliation
Employees who voice concerns about unsafe work conditions or object to illegal business practices also cannot be fired on the basis of those complaints. Known as whistleblowers, these workers are shielded from wrongful termination by the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). Under CEPA, it is illegal to fire an employees who:
- Informs a supervisor or the public about an illegal activity, policy, or practice;
- Provides information or testifies during an investigation, hearing, or inquiry involving the employer;
- Provides information that the employer deceived or misrepresented a shareholder, client, investor, or patient;
- Provides information about an activity on behalf of the employer that they believe to be illegal; or
- Objects to, or refuses to participate in, an activity, policy, or practice that they believe is illegal or against the best interest of public health or safety.
Federal laws, such as the False Claims Act, can also be implicated when the complained-of conduct involves the defrauding of a federal program like Medicaid or Medicare. Violations under the False Claims Act include, but are not limited to:
- Presenting a claim for payment to the federal government knowing it is false or fraudulent;
- Attempting to get a claim paid by the federal government using a false record or statement;
- Conspiring with other individuals to get the federal government to pay for a false or fraudulent claim;
- Intentionally using false records or statements to avoid satisfying a financial obligation or transmit property to the federal government;
- Overcharging for goods and services provided by government contracts;
- Knowingly selling products that are defective or dangerous; and
- Marketing drugs for uses that have not been approved by the FDA.
Employees who shed light on wrongdoing by their employer are protected from termination under state and federal law, and can receive reinstatement to their position, back pay and in some cases a portion of whatever funds government officials recoup from the offending employer.
Fighting Illegal Termination With A Breach Of Contract Action
Another exception to at-will employment is the existence of an employment contract which sets forth acceptable grounds for termination, as well as procedures that must be followed by an employer during termination. Workers should familiarize themselves with the terms of their employment contract. Notably, a contract need not always be put into writing in order to be considered valid in court. An oral contract can consist of a verbal promise by an employer to retain an employee for a certain period of time, or to terminate only for specific reasons. Additionally, the existence of a contract can be implied by an employer and used as evidence in the event of wrongful termination.
Examples of employment contracts in New Jersey which can contain grounds for termination include, but are not limited to:
- Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreements
- Employment Agreements and Executive Agreements
- Non-Compete, Non-Solicit and Restrictive Covenants
- Severance Packages
Our Wrongful Termination Lawyers in New Jersey Can Help You
When an employee is terminated, wrongfully or otherwise, it is imperative that they question the circumstances surrounding their dismissal. A supervisor or manager should provide a detailed explanation for the termination as well as evidence supporting the decision.
If an employee suspects that they have been fired because of their membership in a protected class, their participation in a protected activity, or in violation of the terms of a valid employment contract, a wrongful termination lawsuit may provide relief. Contact our experienced NJ wrongful termination lawyers today to discuss your case and review your options.