Fired For No Reason – What Are My Rights?
February, 2014 by Stacey Biemiller Maisch
If you have recently been fired, but don’t know why, you probably have many questions. Besides worrying about where to get your next paycheck, you want to know what your legal rights are, and if you have any recourse. The answers are varied, depending upon your individual circumstances, but there are some standards associated with employment and firing.
Employment at Will
Employers in the state of New Jersey are generally covered under “employment at will.” That means that they do not need to keep employees, and may choose to fire them for almost any reason. If you were working without a contract or agreement, your employer can choose to dismiss you without giving a specific reason. Unfortunately, in this circumstance, you do not have much in the way of legal recourse unless you can prove discrimination, unlawful treatment, or violation of policy of some kind by your employer.
Exemptions to Employment at Will
If you were a member of a union or other collective bargaining group, your firing must follow certain protocol laid out by contract. If those protocol were not followed with your firing, you could appeal the decision to fire you with your employer. Further, you may have justification for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Likewise, if you signed an individual employment contract when you were hired, that contract should have specific about how and why dismissals may occur. If your contract was violated in your firing, you have legal recourse to fight for your job.
Company policy may also be outlined in manuals or business descriptions. If a company policy on termination says one thing, but your personal experience was different, this exempts the employer from being protected under employment at will.
All employers, even those protected under the employment at will statutes, still must obey local, state and federal laws. Laws that protect against discrimination, sexual harassment, and punishing whistle blowers all exist to protect employees. If you experienced any of these situations in your job and were then fired without just cause, you do have option to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer.
Depending on the severity of the act, you may choose to file a complaint directly with the Department of Labor or hire an employment attorney to guide you with the process. If others at your workplace experienced that same treatment and the same unexplained dismissal, class action may be another option for you to pursue as a group.
If you have any questions about the legality of your firing, contact an employment law firm for insight and advice.