While some employees in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are fired without a reason, others are fired for specific reasons without compensation or advanced notice. Employees may be suddenly fired for cause from their jobs when they have engaged in misconduct or actions that violate company policy. Some employers might claim that an employee was fired for cause to keep the worker form securing unemployment benefits. If you have been fired, the employment law attorneys at Swartz Swidler might be able to help you to understand the rights that you might have.
What is a for-cause termination?
There are many reasons why an employee might be terminated for cause. Some examples include engaging in the following types of behavior:
- Falsifying records
- Failing an alcohol or drug test
- Disclosing trade secrets or other confidential information
- Engaging in criminal activities
- Deliberate violations of company rules
When an employer fires you for cause, the employer is not required to provide you with notice. Employers are only required to provide employees notice of mass layoffs or large corporate or plant closures under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. Employees are otherwise considered to be employed at-will. Most workers in the U.S. are employed at will. This means that the employees and the employers have greater flexibility to end the employment relationship for almost any reason and at any time. However, employers may not fire a worker for discriminatory purposes, including gender, race, color, religion, pregnancy, disability, age, sexual orientation, and others.
An employer may also fire you for cause if you are convicted of a crime or breach an employment contract with your employer. If you are terminated for cause, you might still be entitled to post-employment compensation or severance pay under your company’s policy or an employment contract. While you should not assume that you will receive this type of pay, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Some companies provide severance pay to fired workers instead of having to deal with the problems that can arise with for-cause terminations.
Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired for an unlawful reason or in breach of his or her employment contract. Wrongful termination might include termination out of retaliation for engaging in a protected activity, termination for a discriminatory reason, termination in breach of an employment contract, termination in violation of a company’s policy, or termination for refusing to engage in an illegal act for the employer.
If you believe that you were fired for an illegal reason or in violation of your company’s policy, you might be able to get help. You might be able to appeal the termination decision. You can also talk to the U.S. Department of Labor to learn about the laws that apply to employment and how and where you can file a wrongful termination claim. You can also check with the state labor department to learn about any assistance that might be available. Finally, you can consult with an employment law attorney about what happened to you to learn whether you might have grounds to file a lawsuit against your employer for wrongful termination.
Termination for cause and unemployment benefits
If you are terminated for cause in New Jersey, you might not be eligible for unemployment benefits. Under New Jersey law, people who are fired for cause will have their benefits claims sent to a claims examiner. The examiner will evaluate the type of misconduct that was involved. There are two types of misconduct that will factor in the decision about your eligibility for unemployment compensation in New Jersey. General misconduct includes such things as violating company policy or insubordination. If you were fired for general misconduct, you will be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits for five weeks.
Gross misconduct involves activities that are severe enough to be considered to be crimes of the first through fourth degrees under New Jersey law. If you were fired for gross misconduct, you will not be eligible for unemployment compensation. The only way that you will regain eligibility for unemployment benefits after being fired for gross misconduct is to find a new job, work for a minimum of eight weeks, and earn 10 times your weekly benefit rate. If you do this and become unemployed for no reason, your gross misconduct disqualification will be removed.
If you are unsure of your eligibility for unemployment, you can contact the state’s unemployment office. If you file a claim that is denied, you can appeal the denial and provide an explanation of the circumstances that surrounded your termination.
Get help from the employment law attorneys at Swartz Swidler
Being fired from your job can be frightening. Even if you understand the reason why you were fired, your termination can still be overwhelming. You can talk to the human resources department about your concerns. The human resources department might be able to answer some of the questions that you have. You can also talk to the New Jersey Department of Labor to learn about unemployment benefits and your eligibility. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler can explain whether you might be eligible for unemployment benefits and can help you if you need to appeal a denial. Contact us today to request a consultation by filling out our online contact form or calling us at 856.685.7420.