Wrongful Termination Lawyer in Somerset County, New Jersey
In the State of New Jersey, an employee is generally considered an “at-will employee” unless there is an agreement or contract that describes the terms of employment as something other than “at-will.” The classification of a worker as an at-will employee is much different than an employee with an employment contract, and depending on your employment status, it will affect your available rights if there is a legal dispute over your employment. Consequently, it is important for a worker to be aware of his classification and how it may affect him when initiating legal action.
An at-will employee can be hired or fired at the employer’s will. This means that, in addition to being firable for cause, such as doing a bad job, not showing up on time, or stealing from the company, an at-will employee can also be fired for absolutely no reason at all. In this event, the employee likely would have no rights to dispute the termination unless there was an illegal underlying motive such as discrimination or retaliation. This may seem unfair at first glance, but at-will employees also have the right to quit or leave their jobs at any time for any reason. In an at-will relationship, therefore, both the employee and the employer share the right to terminate employment at any time and for any reason, as long as that reason is not illegal.
Not all workers are considered at-will employees. Some workers sign employment agreements with their employers, either prior to or during the course of their employment. Others may have implied contracts with their employers. Either type of employment agreement may create limitations on when, how, and by whom the employment relationship may be terminated and describe other aspects of the employment relationship, including complaint procedures and the terms of benefits such as vacation days, health insurance, severance packages, and retirement plans.
Because not every employment contract is a formal, signed agreement, it is not always clear to employees whether they are bound by an implied contract or whether they are employed at will. An implied employment agreement may exist based on verbal conversations or employer-supplied materials such as an employee handbook or written policy. If you are unsure of your classification, you could ask your employer directly, but you may have valid reasons for not wanting to do so. In this case, asking an employment attorney for legal advice may be your best option.
If your employer has asked you to sign an employment agreement or has provided information that you think may constitute an implied employment contract, make sure that you understand its terms before sign.
An employment contract is legally binding, and it may limit your rights. If you would like assistance in understanding or interpreting the terms of an employment agreement, contact an experienced employment attorney. A skillful and knowledgeable lawyer can explain the advantages and disadvantages of entering an employment agreement and help you to protect your legal rights at work.
If you’d like to learn more about “at-will” employment, wrongful termination or employment disputes, contact The Mark Law Firm to discuss your rights at 908-375-6767. Or, ask us your question by clicking on the contact us link below.