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New Jersey Employment Lawyers > Blog > Wrongful Termination > Can You Sue an Employer for Laying You Off?

Can You Sue an Employer for Laying You Off?


Being laid off from a job is extremely stressful. It can put a tremendous financial burden on a worker and their family. If you were laid off in New Jersey, you may be wondering: Can I sue my employer for laying me off? The short answer is that employers have a general right to lay off workers for financial reasons, but you may have a claim if you were discharged (laid off) in violation of the law. Here, our Monmouth County wrongful termination attorney highlights key points to know about layoffs.

Background: At-Will Employment in New Jersey 

New Jersey operates under the at-will employment doctrine. As described by the Legal Information Institute, at-will employment allows employers and employees to end their relationship at any time and for any reason, but for illegal reasons. In other words, there is no reason that an employer in New Jersey cannot do layoffs for “business reasons.” That being said, there are laws in place to protect workers from being terminated for an illegal reason.

 A Lay-Off Could Give Rise to a Wrongful Termination Claim 

A lay-off—defined broadly as a reduction in workforce due to economic downturns or operational changes—can cross the line and become a wrongful termination under New Jersey law. You may have a viable wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer if any of the following apply:

  • Discrimination: Discrimination occurs when employees are laid off based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, age, or disability rather than their job performance or the company’s financial needs. For instance, if a lay-off disproportionately affects older employees or certain racial groups, it may give rise to a discrimination claim.
  • Retaliation: Retaliation claims emerge when an employee is laid off as a consequence of engaging in legally protected activities, such as whistleblowing, complaining about harassment, or participating in a safety investigation. An example would be an employee who reports unsafe working conditions and is then selected for a lay-off soon after.
  • Breach of Contract: When employees have written or implied contracts that promise job security or specific lay-off procedures, disregarding these agreements can lead to breach of contract claims.

 You Could Have a Claim Under the New Jersey WARN Act (Lack of Notice) 

If you have been laid off without adequate notice, you might have a claim under the New Jersey Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. The law mandates employers to provide a 60-day notice before mass layoffs or plant closings. Notably, the New Jersey WARN Act applies to companies with 100 or more full-time employees. An affected employee may have a claim through for back pay.

Call Our New Jersey Wrongful Termination Lawyer Today

At Poulos LoPiccolo PC, our New Jersey wrongful termination attorney is an experienced, effective advocate for workers. If you were laid off and you believe that your rights were violated, we are here to help. Call us now or send us a direct message for a strictly confidential case review. With an office in Monmouth County, we handle wrongful termination cases throughout New Jersey.

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