A common question I get from clients or potential clients is “have I been wrongfully terminated?”
In New Jersey as in most other jurisdictions, your employment is “at will” unless your employment contract specifies otherwise. This means that you can be terminated for any lawful reason or no reason at all. In other words, the harsh reality is that your employer does not need a good reason to terminate you.
However, an employer cannot terminate you for an illegal reason. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination protect you from being terminated based on a protected class, which include race, national origin, age, gender, sex, and disability, among others. In New Jersey, an employer also cannot terminate you based on your sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
As such, you have a legal claim if you were wrongfully terminated for any of these reasons.
If a jury finds you were wrongfully terminated in New Jersey, you may be entitled to substantial damages which include:
- Back Pay – lost wages and benefits,
- Front Pay – future economic losses,
- Emotional Distress Damages – compensation for anxiety, depression or other emotional damages resulting from the adverse employment action,
- Physical Distress Damages – compensation for physical pain and suffering including any physical impairment, pain or other medical conditions caused or made worse by the wrongful termination,
- Other Damages – this includes damages that might not fit in the other categories such as out-of -pocket medical expenses or liquidated damages that may be permitted by law,
- Punitive damages – in the event of an egregious violation of law, these damages may be awarded to punish the employer and deter similar conduct in the future, and
- Attorney’s Fees and Costs – Most statutes protecting employees from wrongful termination require employers to pay your attorney’s fees and legal costs if you win your case.
As you can see, you may be entitled to substantial damages if you have been wrongfully terminated. If you are not sure if you have been wrongfully terminated by your employer, do not hesitate to contact our office for a consultation so we may advise you on your legal rights.
Jason T. Mushnick is an employment attorney at Triarsi, Betancourt, Wukovits, & Dugan, LLC with experience handling wrongful termination claims. Feel free to contact him directly to see if you have a claim or if you have any employment law questions at (732)-618-5942 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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