Unless a person is employed under a contract, the person’s employment status is considered “at will” in both New York and New Jersey. Essentially, this means the employee can be fired for any reason – or no reason at all. However, an employer cannot fire an employee for an illegal reason. Firing an employee for an illegal reason is what the law refers to as, “wrongful termination.”
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from being fired on the basis of their race, religion, gender, or nationality. Title VII does not apply to all employers. It only applies to employers with 15+ employees. Title VII does not cover independent contractors and domestic workers. In addition, Title VII does not cover certain family employment relationships, e.g. parent, child, or spouse employers.
New York Laws
New York laws go further than their federal counterparts. Under the New York State Human Rights Law, employers may not fire employees on the basis of race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, age, pregnancy, marital status, or military status.
In New York City, the New York City Human Rights Law also protects employees from being fired on the bases of physical and mental disability, arrest record, citizenship. It also protects employees who associate with a person that belongs to one of the protected classes.
New Jersey Laws
New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination makes it illegal to fire an employee based on the employee’s race, color, nationality, creed, marital status, domestic partnership status, gender, sexual orientation, ancestry, disability, or gender expression. This law applies to all employers in New Jersey. It is one of the most sweeping employee protection laws in the nation.
Our New Jersey / New York wrongful termination lawyers concentrate in protecting your rights. If you have been wrongfully terminated, please call us at (973) 509-8500 to schedule a consultation.