Experienced Legal Counsel for Wrongful Termination in Hackensack
The New Jersey economy is always changing and, unfortunately, many employers slash payrolls to save on costs. However, some layoffs are illegal under New Jersey law. Employers either illegally target employees for retaliation or discrimination, or they completely ignore the terms of a binding employment contract.
If you think you were fired illegally, please contact Zatuchni & Associates today. Our New Jersey wrongful termination lawyer can review the facts of your case in a confidential consultation. It might be possible to sue for lost compensation and other damages, but you should reach out to our firm as soon as possible.
What is Wrongful Termination?
New Jersey is an at-will employment state. That means that, unless you have an employment contract, your employer can fire you at their discretion. You have no legal right to employment, so it is not against the law to let you go for any reason.
Nevertheless, both state and federal laws place some limits on this discretion. For example, an employer cannot fire an employee for an illegal reason, and if they do, then employees can sue.
What Are Examples of Wrongful Termination Claims?
Some of the more common wrongful termination claims include allegations that you have been fired for the following reasons:
- Discrimination. Both state and federal laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of certain protected characteristics, such as age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, and national origin, among others.
- Retaliation. An employer cannot retaliate against an employee for exercising a right. For example, you have the right to take protected family leave or to report a hostile work environment. If you do and your employer retaliates by firing you, you have a wrongful termination claim.
- Requiring an employee to break the law. No employee can be forced to engage in illegal activity. For example, an employer might require a manager to illegally dump toxic chemicals into a river. If the employee refuses, it is wrongful termination to fire him for that reason.
- Breach of contract. A valid employment contract is legally binding, and an employer cannot simply ignore its provisions, such as a “just cause” provision allowing an employer to terminate employment for only specific reasons.
- Violation of company procedures. Many workplaces have employee handbooks or manuals which lay out procedures an employer will follow. Although these are not exactly employment contracts, they can provide rights to employees. For example, a handbook might identify a progressive discipline scheme requiring that an employee be suspended without pay for a violation. If your employer goes right ahead and fires you instead, you might have a wrongful termination claim.
What Remedies Are Available for a Wrongful Termination?
Being fired illegally can dramatically reduce a family’s income. More than one person has been forced into bankruptcy because they have lost a job.
The purpose of a wrongful termination claim is to seek some remedy. Depending on the case, you might request any of the following:
- Reinstatement to your old job
- Front pay
- Reasonable accommodations
- Compensatory damages for emotional distress, pain, and suffering
- Punitive damages for egregious violations
- Attorneys’ fees
At our firm, we work closely with clients to identify what they want. Many of our clients do want to return to their old job, especially if they were subject to harassment or discrimination. But some do. We listen carefully to our client’s goals and develop a litigation strategy to accomplish them.
Are Wrongful Termination Claims Hard to Bring?
Yes. We would be remiss if we did not tell people that the playing field is tilted in favor of employers. For one thing, they have in their possession all relevant communication and other data relating to termination. Few are eager to hand it over, even when requested. For example, a supervisor might have admitted in an email that a company wants to lay off all employees over age 50 in order to bring in a “fresh perspective.” Obtaining evidence like that is critical for bringing a successful claim.
Discharged employees also must follow certain administrative procedures before they can file a lawsuit. As an example, they might need to file a discrimination charge with the EEOC or the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights before heading to court.
Our Hackensack lawyer can help you in all phases of a claim, including analyzing your rights, requesting information from an employer, interviewing witnesses, and filing all claims and lawsuits. Some wrongful termination claims helpfully settle without any need for a trial, and we can aggressively seek the maximum settlement to protect your dignity and rights.
Contact Our Hackensack Wrongful Termination Lawyer Today
Losing a job is a scary experience. Fortunately, our legal team can help when an employer terminates you in violation of law or public policy. Give Zatuchni & Associates a call today to schedule a confidential case evaluation at a convenient time.