WHAT CAN YOU DO?
If you feel you have been wrongly discharged from your job (or you feel you will be discharged soon), we suggest you do the following:
- Keep records of everything that happens relating to the termination, as it happens.
- Makes notes of any conversations or discussion.
- Write down the names of anyone who may have witnessed any event, or who might be a witness in your support.
- Get a copy of your employer’s written personnel manual, employee handbook, or employment policies.
- Obtain a complete copy of your personnel file.
Dealing with issues of injustice in the workplace can be extremely stressful to employees as many are fearful that pursuing any legal action against an employer will result in on-the-job tension or even termination. However, it is important to ensure that your rights as an employee are not being violated. Our firm has helped our clients receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for violations of employment law against them. The lawyers at the Rinaldo Law Group have been successful in cases ranging from political affiliation discrimination to wrongful termination to failure to hire due to religious discrimination.
In most private sector companies, non-union employees are considered employed at will. That means they are hired only for an indefinite time at the will of the employee and the employer. The employee or the employer can terminate the relationship at any time — for no cause at all, or for almost any reason.
But by law, there are limits to how and when an employer can terminate a worker, even if the employment is at will. Employers cannot terminate employment when:
The termination results from discrimination or the violation of the law.
A number of federal laws protect employees from discrimination by race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age (40 and over), and disability or handicap. Various state laws may also apply. Massachusetts, for example, protects employees against discrimination for sexual orientation. Terminated employees may have remedies under a number of statutes, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), Family and Medical Leave Act, Fair Labor Standards Act National Labor Relations Act, and Workers’ Compensation Act.
The termination violates an implied employment contract.
Certain situations may create an implied or expressed contract, such as when an employer promises to terminate only for certain reasons, or only after following specified procedures, or when the employer provides promises or an assurance of employment. Such actions may limit the employer’s ability to dismiss an employee at will.
The termination keeps the employee from receiving a bonus, commission, or other benefits they earned.
This might be violation an “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing” which is considered part of the employment relationship.
The termination violates public policy.
Employers cannot terminate employees for taking time off for jury duty, for example, or other performing other acts encouraged by public policy — such as cooperating with a law enforcement investigation of the company. Employers also cannot terminate employees for refusing to violate a law. An employer may, however, terminate an employee who refuses to abide by internal company policies, provided they are legal.
The termination penalizes a worker for joining with other employees to improve pay or working conditions.
Under federal laws public employees and non-supervisory employees in the private sector (unionized or not) have to join together to try to improve working conditions or wages. However, this doesn’t apply to illegal strikes, or when workers violate other legal work rules.
Employees who are terminated may also have other claims that can involve:
- breach of contract
- invasion of privacy
- unlawful interference with employment
- infliction of emotional distress
If the claims are successful, an employee may be entitled to back pay, front pay, or reinstatement of employment, as well as damages for emotional distress, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees depending on the circumstances. For more information on how you may be able to file a claim against an employer, fill out our contact form or call 1-833-RINALDO.
Related New Jersey Personal Injury Services
Injury in the Workplace
If you are injured at work, while performing your usual work activities, you can normally be compensated for your losses through the Workers Compensation process.