Many employees often have questions about their legal rights. They might wonder when, and for what reasons, they can be terminated from their current job. If they are terminated, they might wonder whether or not it was legal to do so. Many states follow at-will employment laws, which means in most cases, an employer can terminate an employee without reason.
What Does At-Will Employment Mean?
An at-will employment state essentially means that an employer can fire an employee at any time, without reason. It is important to note that while employers do not usually have to have a reason for firing an employee, there are certain reasons that are protected by law. Firing an employee for any of these reasons below can lead to legal and financial liabilities.
Exceptions to At-Will Employment Termination
In New Jersey, it is illegal to terminate an employee based on any of the following:
Public Policy laws protect employees from termination based on actions of public policy. This includes:
- Employees who refuse to perform an illegal act
- Employees who are exercising statutory rights
- Employees who report a violation of the law
- Employees who are exercising certain public policy rights
Employers cannot legally fire an employee for an action that is protected by a statute or their constitutional right.
Implied Covenant of Good Faith
Laws also protect employees from being terminated in bad faith. This might include things like:
- Firing an employee right before retirement to avoid paying retirement benefits
- Firing an employee before having to pay them a large commission fee
- Firing an employee based on their compensation
- Firing an employee that uses their benefits frequently
Essentially, the employer has a legal duty to act in good faith and to treat them fairly.
An implied contract means that there is an employment contract in place that lists the expected terms of the employment. If an employer breaks this contract without good reason, then they could be liable for any damages. Implied contracts negate an employee’s at-will agreement. It is also important to note that there doesn’t need to be an actual contract in place. Implied contract can be formed with an employee manual or description that describes the expectations and policies of the position. If the employer wants to maintain at-will employment, then they must include a clear disclaimer that states that the employee is in an at-will agreement.
Discrimination is another reason that negates an at-will employment agreement. Employees are protected by federal programs against discrimination including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Regardless of the type of employment or contract agreement, employees cannot be fired base on the following:
Discrimination for retaliation occurs when an employee reports wrongdoing and the employer attempts to terminate them in an act of retaliation.
When to Discuss Your Case With an Employment Lawyer
If you believe that you were wrongly fired, then it is important to reach out to an employment lawyer today. An experienced employment law lawyer will evaluate the details of your case, including your contract or any other type of agreement present, and determine whether your employee rights were violated.
Contact a Cherry Hill Employment Attorney for a Consultation About Wrongful Termination in New Jersey Today
If you think that your rights as an employee have been violated, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey employment law attorneys at Attorneys Hartman, Chartered represent clients throughout the state, including Camden County, Marlton, Mount Laurel, and Cherry Hill. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your rights throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 235-0220 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 68 E. Main Street, Moorestown, NJ 08057.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.