Is New Jersey an At-Will Employment State?
When it comes to employment and termination, an employee may have many questions about their rights. New Jersey is considered to be an at-will state. “At-will” means that an employee works “at the will of” the employer, and can be fired without cause. Employment laws and contracts limit the ability of an employer to unfairly fire the employee.
The lawyers at Console Mattiacci Law represent employees who have been wrongfully treated in the workplace, including harassment situations and wrongful terminations.
Discrimination and Retaliation Protection
In addition, New Jersey employees are protected from at-will termination if the reason is based on discrimination or for retaliation purposes. Federal laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA), and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) all provide protections for employees, even if employed in an at-will state. An employer cannot fire an employee because of their race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, disability or because the employer believed an employee belonged to one of these protected groups, even if they do not.
Employees in an at-will state are also protected from retaliatory action by their employers. If an employee takes part in a protected action, such as filing a workers’ compensation claim, reporting their employer for illegal activity, or taking part in an investigation against their employer, the employer cannot terminate their employment as retaliation for their participation.
Express or Implied Contract Exceptions
Express or implied employment contracts are also exceptions to the at-will employment rules in New Jersey. An express employment contract lays out the terms and conditions of a person’s employment. This can include, but not limited to pay, holidays, hours of work, the term or duration of work, causes for termination, job requirements or responsibilities, and timelines for tasks or projects. If the employer breaks an express contract of employment, they may be liable for damages.
Implied employment contracts are one exception for New Jersey as an at-will state. If an employment manual provides conditions of employment with the employees, an implicit contract may be formed and thereby negate the employees’ at-will status.
Employee manuals and other documents that could create an implied contract must have a clear and prominent disclaimer that a reasonable employee would understand to mean that they are still at-will with their employer.
Contact Our Lawyers Now
If you have questions regarding New Jersey at-will employment, our office is here to provide legal guidance for all of your employment needs. Call the office at 215-545-7676 or contact us today to schedule an appointment at Console Mattiacci Law to discuss your questions about at-will employment.