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Job Terminations in New Jersey Are Sometimes Unlawful

Employment in New Jersey is “at will,” which means that employees work at the will of the employer, and the employer can fire an employee at any time for any reason — or for no reason. This is a pro-business policy that has been in place since the 19th century in most states.

There are some exceptions to the at-will doctrine. One exception is that an employee cannot be fired for refusing to commit an illegal or dishonest act for the employer. Another exception is based on the theory that an employer creates an implied contract with employees when the employer’s personnel policies or handbooks lead employees to believe that they will not be fired except for good cause.  And of course a termination based on discrimination — because of gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, disability, race or national origin — is illegal in New Jersey.

Employers that haven’t taken the following steps may be on shaky ground when they fire employees for performance or behavioral reasons:

  • Institute standard procedures — A company shouldn’t make up the rules as it goes along.  Termination and disciplinary procedures should be clear and in writing.
  • Document alleged infractions — A company exposes itself to discrimination litigation if it has no record of long-running problems with the terminated employee.
  • Give the employee a chance to improve — A company risks litigation if it fails to give an employee a reasonable time to improve his or her performance before deciding to terminate the employee.

If you believe you’ve been wrongfully fired in New Jersey, speak with an employment law firm today.

 

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Neil  H.  Deutsch Attorney Photo
Neil H. Deutsch
Senior Partner

About 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…

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Bruce L. Atkins
Senior Partner

About Bruce L. Atkins is regarded as one of New Jersey's premiere practitioners of employment and civil litigation. Mr. Atkins has also been included in the Thomson Reuters list of New Jersey Super Lawyers* in Employment Litigation since 2005. Mr. Atkins believes employees have rights that should be aggressively pursued when an employer has wrongfully dealt…

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Adam J. Kleinfeldt
Partner

About Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigations 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 some of his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict in a…

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Diane Englander Peyser
Attorney

About Diane Englander Peyser joined Deutsch Atkins, PC in September 2018 where she represents employees in wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment, and discrimination matters. Prior to joining Deutsch Atkins, PC, Diane represented clients in all aspects of employment law on behalf of employees involving unemployment appeals, claims of sexual harassment, LGBT discrimination, disability discrimination, FMLA, New…

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Debra M. McGarvey
Attorney

About Debra M. McGarvey joined Deutsch Atkins, 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 Americans…

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