New Jersey’s at-will employment doctrine mandates that, if an employee doesn’t have a specific employment contract, that employee can be fired without warning or just cause. This means that employers can fire their employees for any reason – or for no reason at all. There are, however, some important exceptions to this sweeping rule regarding terminations. As an employer, it’s important to lead with thoughtful integrity but also to know and protect your rights.
New Jersey: An At-Will Employment State
Although New Jersey is an at-will employment state, there are limitations to an employer’s ability to terminate at will those employees who don’t have employment contracts:
- New Jersey courts have held that, if you use an employment manual (with no clear and prominent disclaimer) that addresses for-cause terminations, it can create an implied employment contract that could negate the at-will employment status of your employees.
- Some states, such as California, implement laws that prohibit employers from using off-the-clock employee actions (that aren’t illegal) as a basis for employee terminations. New Jersey is not one of these states.
- In certain situations, such as when an employee needs to take leave for a medical reason (including giving birth), the Family and Medical Leave Act will probably protect that employee from termination.
- If an employee has spoken out regarding adverse working conditions at your business, the National Labor Relations Act could protect that employee from termination. Additionally, New Jersey has a Conscientious Employee Protection Act in place.
- New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination makes it illegal to terminate employees based on their race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation, genetic information, sex, gender identity or expression, physical disability, and several other factors.
- Title VII outlaws any employment discrimination (including termination) that’s based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
- The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act establishes employment protections from civilian employers for uniformed service members.
If you employ at-will employees, you owe it to yourself and to those employees to treat them fairly. Because those employees are at will, however, you do have the legal right to terminate their employment for nearly any reason that isn’t delineated above. In fact, you don’t need a reason to do so.
If You’re Facing a Wrongful Termination Claim, Call 732 238-8686 for More Information Today
If you employ at-will employees in New Jersey, you are not obligated, under most circumstances, to maintain their employment. If you are, nevertheless, facing a wrongful termination claim, Bowne Barry & Barry Attorneys at Law is here to help. Our skilled employment attorneys have the experience and knowledge to protect your business and your rights. For effective legal guidance, please contact or call the law office of Bowne Barry & Barry at 732 238-8686 today.