Employment Law

When can I be Fired?

72d7c467c25921c2b68c_fred.jpg
Employment Lawyer Fred Shahrooz Scampato with the emblem created by his father depicting equality, justice and liberty. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
72d7c467c25921c2b68c_fred.jpg

One of the most common misconceptions about employment law in New Jersey is that workers think that their employers need a reason to terminate their employment. They also wrongfully assume that they can bring a lawsuit for wrongful termination when they do not receive an adequate reason for being let go. The purpose of this article is to clear up these mistaken beliefs.

New Jersey is an employment “at-will” state. That means that an employer can terminate an employee whenever they wish, for a good reason, a bad reason or for no reason at all. The employee is generally not entitled to severance pay, prior notice or even a reason as to why they are being terminated. This is the general rule. The following circumstances are considered exceptions to this rule:

1.      Union Members.  If you are a member of a union or have the protection of a union contract, then you generally have extensive employment protections.  The union contract will outline these rights, which may include the union filing a grievance procedure on the worker’s behalf to get them reinstated if they are terminated by the employer. Even some non-union members, who are employed pursuant to a union contract, can get the benefits of these extensive job protections.  An experienced employment or labor attorney can review the union contract to determine the extent of these protections.

Sign Up for E-News

2.      State, County and Municipal Workers. A large percentage of employees who work for government have civil service rights under the New Jersey Civil Service Commission.  These employees can usually only be terminated for specific reasons and have the right to appeal their termination when they think that the termination was not justified. A list of Civil Service jurisdictions can be found by following this link: http://www.state.nj.us/csc/about/divisions/slo/jurisdictions.html

3.      Employee Handbooks. Employee handbooks are manuals drafted by employers and contain the rights and obligations that exist in the employer’s relationship with the employee.  These handbooks often outline the rules and procedures in which the employers will follow in disciplining and terminating workers. Under certain circumstances, courts have found that these handbooks can be viewed as implied contracts of employment that may limit an employer’s ability to terminate a worker. However, in New Jersey, if the handbook contains an effective disclaimer (essentially stating that the employee remains an “at will” employee and that no contract is created by the handbook), then the employee cannot use the employee handbook as an avenue to raise a claim of wrongful termination. A consultation with an experienced employment attorney is recommended to make this determination.

4.      Discrimination Laws. State and Federal laws prohibit employers from firing employees because of their membership in a protected class.  In other words, it is unlawful to subject people to differential treatment based on race, creed, color, national origin, nationality, ancestry, age, sex (including pregnancy), familial status, marital status, domestic partnership or civil union status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, genetic information, liability for military service, and mental or physical disability, perceived disability, and AIDS and HIV status.  It is highly recommended that a person who thinks that they are the victim of discrimination or harassment to meet with an experienced employment law attorney before they are terminated.

5.      Whistleblowers. The New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act is a state statute that protects employees who have engaged in whistle-blowing activities, such as a complaint pertaining to a reasonable belief that a crime, fraud or violation of the law has been committed, from being retaliated against by an employer.  It is, you guessed it, highly recommended that a potential whistleblowing employee seek the guidance of an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible.

6.      Worker’s Compensation. New Jersey’s worker’s compensation statute prohibits an employer from firing an employee because he or she has filed a worker’s compensation claim. An employee, who has been terminated because he or she filed a worker’s compensation claim, can file a claim through the New Jersey Department of Labor or in a private lawsuit.

7.      Wage and Hour Complaint. Employees who have filed a wage and hour complaint pursuant to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act or the New Jersey wage statutes are protected against retaliation. If an employer fires, an employee, for raising a wage claim (e.g. failure to pay minimum wage, failure to pay overtime, mis-classification as exempt salaried employee, etc.), then the employee can bring suit in administrative, State or Federal courts, depending on the circumstances.

8.      NLRA. The Federal National Labor Relations Act protects workers who are engaged in “protected concerted activity”, or when two or more employees act together to improve the terms and conditions of employment. Employees have the right to advocate for improvement to their work environment even when they are not members of a union.

9.      OSHA. The Federal Occupational and Health Safety Act requires employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. The act prohibits employers from firing employees in retaliation for engaging in an OSHA whistleblowing activity. An employee who has been terminated can file a claim with the Occupational and Health Safety Administration.

10.  Jury Duty. In New Jersey employers are prohibited from firing employees, after receiving proper notice, for going to jury duty. Employers who fire for serving on a jury may be subject to criminal sanctions and special damages in a wrongful termination lawsuit.

11.  Military Leave. State and Federal law prohibit employers from discriminating or retaliating against an employee who leave to serve in the military (including education and training). Military personnel are also entitled to reinstatement of their job upon the completion of their military duty.

12.  Family Leave Laws. Under certain circumstances, employees are protected for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for their own or a close family member’s serious health condition. An employee, who is fired in retaliation for going out on a protected medical leave, can bring an action through the US Department of Labor, State or Federal court, depending on the circumstances.

If you have any additional questions concerning this subject, you are encouraged to telephone the Law Office of Fred Shahrooz-Scampato for a free fifteen minute telephone consultation. During that time, Mr. Shahrooz-Scampato will carefully listen to your facts, explain the pertinent law and potentially provide you with option for going forward with a claim for wrongful termination.

Whether you are an employer looking for assistance with employment law issues, or an employee who feels unfairly treated, Fred Shahrooz Scampato can provide you with the benefit of his over twenty years experience in employment law. His goal is to prevent workplace problems from becoming costly litigation. He can be reached at Scampato@aol.com, Scampato@njlaborlaw.com or 908-301-9095. Visit his website at www.njlaborlaw.com.
 

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

Another Car Smashes into CVS on Morris Avenue in Union

April 21, 2018

UNION, NJ – For the third time in the past year, a car hit the CVS building at 2287 Morris Avenue at the corner of Commerce Avenue.

Union firefighters responded to a call at the CVS at about 12:50 p.m. Thursday.  According to Fire Chief Mike Scanio, a car had struck the building. The Union Fire Department Special Operations Team along with a township construction official ...

2018 Municipal Budget is on Collision Course with Principles of Financial Soundness & Stability

April 18, 2018

Having chaired the town council’s finance committee in the recent past, I appreciate the hard work that goes into developing a municipal budget for a town as large and dynamic as Westfield. But as I have expressed publicly and also to the mayor and my council colleagues, I do not support the adoption of Westfield’s 2018 municipal budget. Although the budget contains much that I ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_847ee9151bdce789833a_y

Sat, April 21, 9:30 AM

Westfield Area YMCA, Westfield

Westfield Area YMCA Camp Open House

Sat, April 21, 10:00 AM

Tamaques Park, Brightwood Park & Mindowaskin Park, Westfield

Westfield 2018 Spring Clean-Up

Giving Back Government Green

Carousel_image_28ada9d80beb9d6466b0_picture2_simpler

Sat, April 21, 1:30 PM

Westfield Area YMCA, Westfield

Free Aquatics Healthy Kids Day

Health & Wellness Sports

Westfield Police Blotter: Residence Burglarized & More

April 18, 2018

April 11, 2018 10:23 a.m.

Raymond Rodgers, 56, of Westfield, NJ was arrested in the area of E. Broad Street. Rodgers was arrested pursuant to an unrelated traffic investigation. Rogers was transported to Westfield Police HQ without incident. At WPD HQ, Rodgers was processed and released after posting the full bail amount ($250). Rodgers was arrested on the strength of an outstanding Westfield ...

The Secret to Managing Insulin for Weight Loss

April 21, 2018

Not too long ago I was sitting with my good friend, Charlie, and I asked him, "Hey Charlie, what's the easiest way to get rid of belly fat?"

"C'mon, Tony, you know the answer to that question." I was pretty sure I did, but I wanted to see if he knew something I didn't. Charlie continued, "The secret to losing belly fat and keeping it off is simply a matter ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse

By LIZ KEILL

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

Edison Students Participate in Beta Test of Google Augmented Reality App

Students and teachers at Edison Intermediate School participated in a recent beta test of a Google application that uses augmented reality technology to explore the inner workings of plant cells, the functions and framework of the human skeletal system, and other educational subjects.

Edison Media Specialist Andrew Cusumano arranged for a Google representative to visit the school on April 9 to ...

Get Your Home Ready for Summer Before its TOO HOT

Finally, the weather is getting warmer and you are shedding those down coats. Now is a great time to start thinking about summer and getting your home prepared. Paying attention to a few maintenance items can alleviate painful repairs later on if you wait too long. The line ahead of you will build as the summer rush starts. So, let’s not wait.

Check your roof   (hire the expert ...

Why We Keep Kosher

Why We Keep Kosher

This week's parshah, Shemini, introduces the Torah's dietary laws. Animals must chew their cud and have split hooves to be kosher, fish need fins and scales, and a list of forbidden fowl is enumerated.

To those of us in Jewish education, it is a continuing source of disappointment that so many Jews still believe the kosher laws to be outdated.

Hellenic Therapy Center

April 13, 2018

Dropping Off Our Kids At College – Learning How To Adjust

Hellenic Therapy Center

 

Whether your kid is a freshman entering college for the first time or returning back to college, there are so many emotions we experience as parents.  There are differences in a parent’s reaction to the departure of a first child, an only child or even the last child.  Feelings ...

Obituaries

Oct 21, 1944 - Apr 14, 2018
Kathleen A. Hertell passed away peacefully with family at her bedside on April 14, 2018. Loving ...
Read more

Mets Sign Patriots Pitcher Before He Can Unpack His Gear

April 20, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — The Somerset Patriots have announced that right-hand pitcher Scott Copeland’s contract has been purchased by the New York Mets.

So, instead of stretching out and getting in shape at TD Bank Ballpark, he's been sent to extended spring training at the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

The 6’3” righty broke into the big leagues in ...