Wrongful termination is a term used when someone has been fired or laid off for an illegal reason. Illegal reasons include any discriminatory practice such as firing or laying off an employee because of their race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation or disability. Illegal reasons can also include being fired for whistleblowing safety issues or illegal activity in which your employer is engaged.
New Jersey is an at-will employment state. This means that an employee can quit anytime but also means that the employer can terminate an employee at any time without cause or justification. Even in at-will employment states, an employer cannot terminate an employee for any illegal reason.
Harassment and Hostile Work Environments
If sexual harassment or other forms of intimidation and bullying occur and your employer turns a blind eye to the situation, your workplace may be considered a hostile workplace. This type of harassment occurs when unwelcome comments based on a person’s protected characteristics interfere with an employee’s work performance. Hostile work environments can also include unwelcome touching, physical or verbal threats, and the display of inappropriate photographs or content. Protected characteristics include, but are not limited to:
- Sexual Orientation
If you were harassed at work and believe you were terminated for complaining or reporting the environment, you may have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit. In some cases, even if you quit because you couldn’t take it anymore, you may have a case.
Fired After Claiming Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If you are injured on the job, you very likely are entitled to workers compensation benefits. If you are fired after an injury on the job because you are making the claim, you may have a case for a wrongful termination lawsuit. You also cannot be fired for testifying on behalf of a colleague in their workers compensation case.
Disability discrimination in the workplace happens when an employer treats a disabled employee unfavorably due to his or her disability. There are numerous laws in place that protect against disability discrimination. The American with Disability Act (ADA) offers federal protections and in New Jersey, the Law Against Discrimination offers even more protections for employees with discrimination claims. Employers who make employment decisions, like hiring or firing an employee, based on that employee’s disability can be found liable in a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Damages in a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit
You may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit seeking compensation not just for monetary damages, but also for the emotional pain and suffering such experiences have caused you. In a successful lawsuit, you may be awarded damages for back pay, front pay, medical expenses, and punitive damages. In some cases, you may also receive reinstatement of employment or your employment benefits.
Brandon J. Broderick, Employment Law, New Jersey and New York
If you believe you were wrongfully terminated or are experiencing wrongful conduct, discrimination or harassment in the workplace, Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, can help. Rated one of New Jersey’s top employment law firms, we are focused on client care and passionately pursuing the best interests of our clients. Contact us today for a free consultation.