Search Site
21 Main St, Ste 352 | Hackensack, New Jersey 07601
Call For Consultation 551-245-8894

What Does Employment-at-Will Actually Mean?

Most states follow the common law doctrine of employment-at-will. This rule essentially states that, absent a contract to the contrary, an employee serves at the pleasure of his or her employer and can be terminated for any or no reason. Fortunately, while still in effect in most U.S. states, the doctrine of employment-at-will has been seriously limited by legislation.

Employers who insist upon taking employment-at-will literally soon find out that it is not as expansive as it sounds. Several federal and state statutes establish that it is illegal to terminate employees for certain reasons:

  • The Civil Rights Acts prohibits employees from being terminated for discriminatory reasons based on race, religion, creed, color, national origin or gender. It also prevents employers from firing employees for complaining about or participating in the investigation of such discriminatory conduct.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits an employer from firing an employee because he or she is disabled, provided the employee is still able to perform the essential functions of the job either with or without reasonable accommodation.
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits employees over the age of 40 from being fired because of their ages.
  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act prohibits employers from firing employees who report fraudulent or illegal company practices to supervisors or outside regulators.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act prevents employers from firing employees for reporting safety violations.
  • The National Labor Relations Act prevents employers from firing employees for engaging in concerted activity regarding work conditions.
  • The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits retaliatory discharge against employees who file or participate in complaints regarding discrimination.
  • The New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act prohibits employers from firing employees for reporting, providing information regarding, objecting to or refusing to participate in any conduct that is criminal, fraudulent or in violation of law or regulation.

If you have suffered retaliation for any of these reasons, a New Jersey employment law attorney may be able to help.

Neil  H.  Deutsch Attorney Photo
Neil H. Deutsch

Neil H. Deutsch has been practicing law for over 35 years and is known as a skilled negotiator in employment and discrimination law. He believes in a bottom-line approach of risk analysis and cost effectiveness for his clients. "Case evaluation is something we take seriously," says Mr. Deutsch who seeks top net dollar for his…

Bruce  L.  Atkins Attorney Photo
Bruce L. Atkins
Senior Partner

Bruce L. Atkins is the Senior Managing Partner at Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt P.C., a prominent plaintiff employment law firm in the tri-state area. Mr. Atkins believes employees’ rights should be aggressively pursued when they’ve been wrongfully dealt with by their employers. He brings this philosophy to his practice when considering each case and its…

Adam  J.  Kleinfeldt Attorney Photo
Adam J. Kleinfeldt

Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigation such as discrimination, retaliation and whistle blowing matters. He has extensive experience in all phases of the litigation process. Adam has obtained significant results for his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict in a sexual…

Debra M. McGarvey Attorney Photo
Debra M. McGarvey

Debra M. McGarvey joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in December 2019. She has extensive experience defending employees and employers in state and federal court in employment litigation matters. She has represented clients on various issues arising out of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), the…

Carly Skarbnik Meredith Attorney Photo
Carly Skarbnik Meredith

Carly Skarbnik Meredith, Esq. is a Partner at the firm. Carly has focused her career exclusively in the field of employment law. She has a plethora of experience representing both employees and employers with their employment issues, needs, and concerns. She believes representing both employees and employers has made her an extremely well-rounded client advocate.…


Go to the following links for descriptions of selection methodologies for Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review RatingsSuper Lawyers and The National Trial Lawyers Top 100.
No aspect of these advertisements has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

Contact us

Quick Contact Form