How do you Prove Wrongful Termination in NJ?

By: Gregg Zeff
On: May 14, 2024

Wrongful Termination

In New Jersey, it is considered wrongful termination when an employee is dismissed, laid off, fired, or otherwise terminated for an illegal reason, such as discrimination. Those who are wrongfully terminated in New Jersey have the legal right to sue their former employers on grounds that their termination violated both federal and New Jersey state laws.

What Are the Laws for Wrongful Termination in NJ?

Under state law, employers in New Jersey have the right to terminate at-will employees for nearly any reason. However, there are several illegal reasons to terminate an employee, such as race, disability, or gender discrimination, to name a few. Any employer found to have terminated an employee illegally may be sued for wrongful termination in New Jersey courts.

New Jersey employers are not allowed to terminate employees based on the employee’s race, color, sex, religious practices, age, pregnancy status, or disability. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities, and they may not terminate an employee rather than accommodate their disability. Employers do not have the legal right to fire those who take family medical leave for maternity leave, caring for a family member with Covid-19, or otherwise. In addition, employers also do not have the right to fire whistleblowers, employees who call attention to unlawful business practices or unsafe working conditions at the company where they work.

Can You Sue for Wrongful Termination in NJ?

Yes, you can sue for wrongful termination in New Jersey. New Jersey, like many other states, recognizes various grounds for wrongful termination, including discrimination, retaliation, and breach of contract. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated from your job in New Jersey, you have the legal right to pursue legal action against your employer.

To sue for wrongful termination in New Jersey, you need to demonstrate that your termination violated state or federal laws, such as the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. These laws prohibit discrimination based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, age, disability, religion, and national origin.

Additionally, you may have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit if your employer breached an employment contract or violated public policy by firing you for reasons that are illegal or against public interest.

If you decide to sue for wrongful termination in New Jersey, it’s essential to act promptly, as there are strict deadlines for filing claims (statute of limitations). Consulting with an experienced employment lawyer is highly recommended to assess the strength of your case, navigate the legal process, and maximize your chances of success.

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How can I Prove I was Wrongfully Terminated?

If there is an illegal reason for an employee’s termination, employers are unlikely to come right out and admit it. Instead, employers will give a false reason for the termination, such as bad performance or misconduct. To prove wrongful termination, you must show that the employer’s stated reason is inaccurate and that the real reason is an illegal one. To support your case, gather documents, such as your personnel file, employment contract, employee handbook, job evaluations, paystubs, applicable emails, memos, and the termination notice, if it was provided in writing. In addition, record as much information as you can about your termination as soon as possible, before your memory fades. Include the timeline of events, everyone involved (their names, roles, and titles), including who told you that you were being fired, and anyone else who was present at the time.

What Evidence do you need to Prove Wrongful Termination?

Employment in New Jersey is at-will, which means you can be terminated at any point during your employment, without reason. However, if that reason is discrimination of any kind, your termination may have been illegal. The Law Against Discrimination (LAD) in New Jersey, bans employers from discriminating against their employees. It’s your best bet to try to gather evidence to support your suspicions of discrimination.

  • If you notice the new hires seem to identify as the same gender or seem to be approximately the same age, this could show a pattern of discrimination. Note the details of this pattern.
  • If you experience consistent harassment from a supervisor about your race, gender, sexual orientation or any protected identifier, reporting it can help your wrongful termination case.
  • While it is difficult to prove that verbal discriminatory comments in court, gathering any digital correspondence, job contracts, or training documents outlining company policies could all be useful. If you no longer have access to your company email, search through any personal emails or text messages from former co-workers for relevant correspondence.

How long do you have to File Against an Employer for Wrongful Termination?

There are set time periods for filing wrongful termination lawsuits, so time is of the essence. Be aware of the statute of limitations because if you go beyond the allotted time to sue, your case might be thrown out. In New Jersey, you may have only six months to a year to file your claim, depending on the type of case. Speak to an employment lawyer to find out the statute of limitations in your case and to discuss your legal options. The experienced wrongful termination lawyers at Zeff Law Firm can advise you on your case.

What Steps Should You Take to Prove Your Wrongful Termination Case?

To prove wrongful termination, you should take the following steps:

  • Document Incidents: Keep detailed records of any incidents related to your termination, including discriminatory remarks, unfair treatment, or violations of company policies. This documentation can serve as evidence to support your claim.
  • Preserve Evidence: Preserve any physical or electronic evidence relevant to your termination, such as emails, performance reviews or evaluations, memos, or witness statements. This evidence can help corroborate your allegations and strengthen your case.
  • Review Employment Documents: Review your employment contract, employee handbook, or any other relevant documents to identify any provisions related to termination procedures, disciplinary actions, or employee rights. Any discrepancies between these documents and your employer’s actions could support your claim.
  • Seek Legal Advice: Consult with an experienced employment lawyer who specializes in wrongful termination cases. A lawyer can assess the merits of your case, provide legal advice on your rights and options, and guide you through the legal process.
  • File a Complaint: Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may need to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR), or other relevant state or federal agencies. It is recommended that you consult a lawyer before doing this. Your lawyer can assist you in preparing and filing the necessary paperwork.
  • Cooperate with Investigations: If an investigation is initiated by the EEOC, DCR, or other agency, cooperate fully with their inquiries. Provide any requested information, attend interviews or hearings, and comply with any deadlines or requirements to ensure a thorough investigation of your claim.
  • Consider Negotiation or Mediation: In some cases, negotiations or mediation sessions may be conducted to resolve the dispute outside of court. Your lawyer can represent your interests during these proceedings and help you negotiate a fair settlement with your employer if appropriate.
  • Prepare for Litigation: If attempts to resolve the dispute amicably are unsuccessful, an employment lawyer can prepare your case for litigation. This may involve gathering additional evidence, preparing legal arguments, and representing you in court proceedings.

By taking these steps, you can effectively build your case and increase your chances of proving wrongful termination in a legal setting. Working with an experienced wrongful termination lawyer can provide valuable support and guidance throughout the process.

Why Should You Seek Legal Assistance for Your Case?

Seeking legal assistance is crucial when facing wrongful termination in New Jersey for several reasons:

  • Understanding Your Rights: Employment laws can be complex and vary from state to state. Experienced employment lawyers can help you understand your rights under state and federal laws, such as the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) or the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Evaluating Your Case: An attorney can assess the merits of your wrongful termination claim based on the specific circumstances of your case. They can determine if your employer violated any laws or contractual agreements, and if you have sufficient evidence to support your claim.
  • Navigating the Legal Process: Legal proceedings can be daunting, especially for individuals who are not familiar with the legal system. An employment lawyer can guide you through the entire process, from filing a complaint with the appropriate agency to representing you in negotiations or litigation.
  • Maximizing Compensation: A skilled employment attorney can help you pursue the maximum compensation available for your wrongful termination, including lost wages, benefits, emotional distress, and punitive damages if applicable.
  • Protecting Your Rights: Your employer may have legal representation to defend against your wrongful termination claim. Having your own attorney ensures that your rights are protected and that you have a strong advocate fighting for your interests.
  • Achieving a Favorable Outcome: With legal representation, you increase the likelihood of achieving a favorable outcome in your wrongful termination case. A New Jersey wrongful termination attorney can leverage their knowledge, experience, and negotiation skills to help you obtain the best possible result.

Ultimately, seeking legal assistance is essential for navigating the complexities of a wrongful termination claim, protecting your rights, and pursuing justice for unlawful employment practices.

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