What is Employment Law?
Employment law is the group of legal rights that employees have in the workplace. Important employment laws in New Jersey and New York include the right to be free from unlawful discrimination, workplace harassment, andretaliation. Employment law rights also include rights under written and verbal employment contracts, rights and obligations under non-competeand non-solicitation agreements, and in some instances the right to severance pay. Other important employment law rights include entitlements under wage and hour laws, like the right to receive minimum wage and overtime pay.
Do I Have a Legal Claim if I Was Fired Unfairly?
Not necessarily. People often use the terms “wrongful termination” and “wrongful discharge” as if any unfair firing is illegal. However, in New Jersey and New York not every unfair firing is legally actionable. Unless you have a term-of-years employment contract (like a one-year employment contract), are a civil service employee, or are a union member, you are probably an employee at-will.
What is Employment At-Will?
Employment at-will means that no matter how unfair the decision seems, unless your employer has violated a specific law, it can fire you for any reason, or even for no reason at all. Likewise, you can quit for any reason or for no reason.
What Are My Employment Law Rights?
Fortunately, there are many exceptions to employment at will in New York and New Jersey. For example, you cannot be fired because of your age, disability,race, color, national origin, gender,pregnancy, religion, veteran or military status,or sexual orientation.
Similarly, you cannot be fired for objecting to a violation of an anti-discrimination law or under a wageand hour law, for asking for time off under the Family & Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). New Jersey also has a very broad whistleblower law that, among other things, protects employees who object to or refuse to participate in illegal, fraudulent, or criminal actions by their employers.
Other Important Employment Law Rights
Employees in New Jersey and New York have many other important employment laws and rights, including rights relating to:
- Sexual Harassment
- Workplace Harassment
- Employment Contracts
- Family and Medical Leaves
- Minimum Wage and Overtime
- Reasonable Accommodationsfor Disabilities and Religious Beliefs
- Constitutional Civil Rights
- Mass Layoffs and Reductions in Force (RIFs)
- Oppressed Minority Shareholders
- Independent Contractors Misclassified as Independent Contractors
- Workplace Privacy
- Intentional Workplace Personal Injuries (Torts)