Losing a job is disheartening at the least and devastating at the worst, but if the terms of your firing violated your rights you may be able to do something about it. Like other states, New Jersey has certain employment laws in place to protect companies and workers, and understanding them can be the key to how you handle your termination.
What is At-Will Employment?
Most kinds of employment contracts are “at will,” meaning that an employee can be fired any time, for any reason, or for no reason – unless it is against the law. This goes for employees, too: they can leave a job in these circumstances as well. Those specifications are pretty open-ended and can protect both sides, but no one wants to be fired when they value their job.
Though Pennsylvania is an “at will” employment state, many employers will fire workers unfairly without breaking any laws and not much can be done. Some use different kinds of employment contracts, too. Others will do it illegally, but what kinds of situations fall into this last category?
What Qualifies as an Illegal Termination?
An employer who fires an employee based on their race, religion, age, disability, gender, or other protected categories is doing so illegally. Other groups that face this kind of employment discrimination include pregnant women and people with GEDs rather than high school diplomas. Federal laws enforced through the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) safeguard employees from these illegal terminations, but evidence is needed to prove the discrimination. This might include only a certain group of employees being laid off, a written statement from a supervisor, or comments showing a manager preferred one group of employees over another one.
Workplace retaliation is when an employer punishes an employee for participating in protected practices, like taking part in a government investigation into allegedly illegal company behavior, or reporting things like safety violations, harassment, and discrimination. Employees also have the right to file an EEOC complaints and also workers’ compensation claims if they are injured at work. If you were fired for exercising these kinds of legal rights (another example is taking covered medical leave), you just might have a case.
What if My Employer Made Me Promises and Then Fired Me?
This scenario might qualify as a breach of contract, depending on the agreement you had with your employer. An employment contract or other written statement might promise job security and list only specific circumstances that you could be fired for. This information might also be in an employee handbook if it is not in the contract.
Verbal agreements can be tricky, and it is not unusual for company owners and supervisors to make statements guaranteeing an employee’s work for a set amount of time. Some promise employees that their services will be utilized until a project is completed, or make other spoken offers of job security. When an employer says things like this, always ask them to put it in writing for you as soon as possible to have that all-important written documentation.
Marlton Employment Lawyers at Burnham Douglass Help Employees Who Have Been Illegally Terminated by Their Employers
Not having a job puts you in a precarious situation, but if your previous employer did this illegally, you may very well have legal grounds to challenge what they did. For a free consultation, contact our experienced Marlton employment lawyers at Burnham Douglass. We are ready to help, and will fight to get you the compensation you are entitled to. Call our Marlton and Northfield, New Jersey offices at 856-751-5505 or complete our online form today. We represent clients in New Jersey, Camden County, Burlington County, Atlantic County, Gloucester County, and Mercer County.