New Jersey is an at-will employment state. This means that in New Jersey, a worker can quit their job at any time, for any reason, and without giving advance notice. However, it is a good idea for an employee to provide an employer with a notice before resigning. Employment at will is the principle that an employer can fire an employee from their job for whatever reason or no reason at all. But while your employer can fire you for whatever reason, they cannot fire you for an illegal reason, also known as being wrongfully fired.
Unfortunately, despite employers being prohibited from firing employees for unlawful reasons, wrongful termination is quite common in New Jersey. Examples of being wrongfully fired include firing an employee who reported harassment by a supervisor or asked for reasonable accommodations.
When an employee is wrongfully terminated, they have the right to hold the employer accountable and recover compensation. However, an employee must first recognize they were wrongfully discharged before they can hold an employer responsible. Identifying a wrongful discharge can be challenging since many employers hide inappropriate termination decisions.
There are several ways that an employer can try to hide wrongful termination, but the following are the most common;
Using Progressive Discipline
Many employers are careful not to terminate a worker soon after they, for example, report harassment by a supervisor or ask for reasonable accommodations. Many employers delay the actual discharge to hide that it is a wrongful termination. Progressive discipline is one of the common ways employers hide wrongful termination. Progressive discipline creates records that show why an employer fired an employee.
An employer may start enforcing rules against an employee soon after they, for example, ask for reasonable accommodations or report harassment by a supervisor that they do not enforce against other employees. If an employee fails to abide by the rules, it may give the employer justification on paper to terminate the employee even though the real reason for terminating the employee is because the employee reported harassment or asked for reasonable accommodations.
An employer may also start having issues with an employee’s performance even though the employee’s performance is the same. An employer may start giving an employee poor performance reviews so that those reviews can cover up a wrongful termination.
Firing an Employee With a Group of Other Employees
Downsizing is necessary, for example, when a company is experiencing financial trouble or after a merger. The problem comes in when discrimination plays a role in downsizing decisions. Downsizing is a common way for companies to hide wrongful terminations. For example, an employer may use downsizing to hide age or race discrimination. If all the employees getting close to retirement age are fired as part of a downsizing effort, that could indicate discrimination. If there are a few employees at your workplace from a particular racial group and your employer fires all but one of them as part of a downsizing effort, that could indicate discrimination.
Contact Us for Legal Help
Do you believe you were wrongfully terminated from your job? Do you need help holding your employer accountable? Contact our skilled and dedicated New Jersey employment lawyer at The Trabosh Law Firm.