Most employees in the United States are “at will” employees. However, there are laws in place that protect workers against wrongful termination. Wrongful termination arises when an employer fires a worker in violation of the worker’s contractual or statutory rights. For “at will” employees, wrongful termination generally arises when an employer fires a worker in violation of the worker’s statutory rights. Unfortunately, when an employee is wrongfully terminated, they can suffer devastating financial and career consequences. The good news, however, is that remedies are available for employees who successfully bring forward claims after being wrongfully terminated.
Understanding At-Will Employment
Employment “at-will” is when there is no contract between the employer and the employee. It is when the term of employment is indefinite. Additionally, employment “at-will” is when an employer has the right to fire a worker at any time for whatever reason, provided that the reason for termination is not illegal. If, for example, an employer fires an at-will employee because they do not like the employee, this is not illegal. It might be unfair, but it is not against the law. Also, at-will employees have the right to quit for whatever reasons and without advance notice.
If an employer terminates an at-will employee for an illegal reason or an employee with an employment contract in breach of the contract’s terms, the termination may constitute wrongful termination. For example, if an employer fires an at-will employee due to their race, religion, gender, age, or sexual orientation, that may constitute wrongful termination. Federal and state laws prohibit employers from discriminating against workers based on these and many other protected characteristics. Also, whistleblowers or employees who participate in workplace investigations are protected from wrongful termination. Employees who are terminated for whistleblowing or participating in a workplace investigation might have the right to file a wrongful termination claim.
Remedies for Wrongful Termination
If you file a wrongful termination claim and succeed, there are a number of remedies you may be entitled to. In a New Jersey wrongful termination claim, there are both economic and non-economic forms of relief. If you can prove your wrongful termination case, you can recover both forms of remedies. Economic remedies involve providing a plaintiff with monetary damages for harm suffered because of the wrongful termination. On the other hand, non-economic remedies do not involve providing a plaintiff with monetary damages. However, non-economic remedies can be just as important as economic remedies.
Examples of economic remedies that you may recover in a New Jersey wrongful termination claim include;
- Back pay
- Loss of benefits
- Front pay
- Loss of benefits
As it pertains to non-economic remedies, there are several forms that an employee may be entitled to. For example, you may be entitled to be reinstated. However, most courts prefer to award claimants monetary damages instead of ordering reinstatement to avoid making hiring decisions on behalf of employers. Also, the court may order that the seniority you lost due to the wrongful termination be restored. Such a remedy can be extremely powerful since seniority can influence several employment benefits.
Contact Us for Legal Help
If you’ve been wrongfully terminated and need help pursuing the remedies you deserve, contact a qualified and dedicated New Jersey employment lawyer at The Trabosh Law Firm.