Wrongful Termination and Retaliation
A Wrongful Termination and Retaliation Attorney Will Fight For Your Rights in New York & New Jersey
Wrongful termination is a term that refers to an employee who is fired illegally. An employee cannot be discharged if they were fired in violation of a contract or as a result of unlawful harassment, discrimination, or retaliation. The remedy for wrongful termination often consists of money damages, which may include compensation for lost wages and benefits, emotional distress damages, and punitive damages.
Although an employer may provide a non-discriminatory basis for your termination, this explanation may be pretextual or a cover-up for discrimination or retaliation. It is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney who can help you understand your rights and weigh your options.
At Shnayder Law LLC, we help people in New York and New Jersey fight back against wrongful termination and retaliation. Founder Erica Shnayder is an aggressive litigator and seasoned negotiator who has helped clients recover more than $22 million in court verdicts and settlements.
“At-Will” Employment and Wrongful Termination
Like many other states, New York and New Jersey are “at-will” employment states. This means that the employer can generally fire an employee for any reason – as long as it is not illegal.
The “at-will” designation is often misunderstood and misconstrued to make employees think they simply have no rights on the job. The truth is a wide range of federal, state, and local laws give employees substantial workplace protections.
Although a company can fire an employee for a vast number of reasons or no reason at all, it cannot fire an employee for an unlawful reason, including:
- Discrimination: Employers are banned from making job-related decisions based on a person’s protected characteristics, including, for example, gender, disability race, national origin, age, religion, or sexual orientation.
- Retaliation: An employee cannot be fired for complaining about sexual harassment or other unlawful harassment or discrimination on the job.
For workers who signed an employment contract, the company cannot violate the terms of this legally binding document if it decides to terminate the person’s employment.
Some employment contracts and collective bargaining agreements include provisions requiring an employer to pay severance if an employee is fired or laid off. Employers may also offer some form of severance pay in exchange for some other agreement, like not to share confidential business information or not to sue the company.
It is essential that anyone presented with a separation or severance agreement fully understand the details of this binding legal contract before they sign, which means knowing what rights you are giving up and what you are getting in return.
Ms. Shnayder can help you understand the effects of signing a Severance Agreement, negotiate its terms, and evaluate any potential claims that you may have that relate to the termination of your employment to make sure your rights are fully protected.
Employees cannot be fired for complaining about or taking action against discrimination and other legal violations on the job.
A wide range of laws include provisions prohibiting retaliation.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for example, is a federal law banning workplace discrimination. The law also bans employers from taking retaliatory action against job applicants or employees who assert their rights under the law. For example, it is unlawful to retaliate against applicants or employees for:
- filing or being a witness in an EEO charge, complaint, investigation, or lawsuit
- communicating with a supervisor or manager about employment discrimination, including harassment
- answering questions during an employer investigation of alleged harassment
- refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination
- resisting sexual advances, or intervening to protect others
- requesting accommodation of a disability or for a religious practice
Unlawful retaliatory action can come in many forms,
- including reprimands, negative performance reviews,
- transfers, demotions, pay cuts, and termination. It can also happen in less obvious ways, including the
- assignment of menial tasks or passing over an employee for opportunities that could eventually lead to a promotion.
Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA)
New Jersey employees also have some broad additional rights on the job under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act.
Often called a “whistleblower” law, CEPA protects employees from retaliation for objecting to or taking action against something they reasonably believe is a violation of the law. It is designed to encourage people who witness or are subjected to unlawful behavior at work to come forward and “blow the whistle” without fear of losing their jobs. CEPA allows for a wide variety of damages and remedies, including reinstatement, lost wages and lost employee benefits, damages for emotional distress, and punitive damages.
Speak With a New York & New Jersey Wrongful Termination Lawyer
If you believe you have been unlawfully fired or retaliated against, a New Jersey and New York employment lawyer from Shnayder Law LLC can help. Contact us online or call 973-714-1515 to schedule a free consultation.