Protected Classes in Cherry Hill Wrongful Termination Cases

New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination is one of the most comprehensive anti-discrimination and anti-wrongful termination statutes in the country, and it has more protections than the comparable federal laws, especially with regard to the LGBTQ community. It is important to understand the impact of protected classes in Cherry Hill wrongful termination cases before filing a lawsuit against your ex-boss. If you believe that your former employer violated this or other employment laws in his or her decision to fire you, get in touch with one of the wrongful termination attorneys on our team today.

What Are Protected Classes According to State Law?

New Jersey law has a comprehensive list of approximately 20 protected classes, and employers cannot terminate based upon any employee’s membership in one of those protected classes. Some of those include:

Wrongful Termination Based on Gender

A wrongful termination based on gender is where an employee is fired based on the fact that they are either male or female or non-binary, which can be proven by direct evidence of comments made in the workplace, circumstantial evidence such as indirect reference to the employee’s gender, or statistical evidence showing a pattern of multiple people of a certain gender being let go and replaced by people of the opposite gender.

How Does the Equal Pay Act of 1963 Impact Wrongful Termination Based on Gender?

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires employers to pay men and women equally for equal work. How that plays into wrongful termination depends on the circumstances of each case.

For example, if an employee complains about a lack of equal pay and is then terminated, that would be a retaliatory wrongful termination. Alternatively, it could be that an employer realizes they are not paying an individual equally and decides they don’t want to do that, so they terminate that person and hire someone of the opposite gender to pay them less.

Wrongfully Firing a Cherry Hill Worker Based on Age

Wrongful termination based on age is when an employer decides to let someone go and either replaces them with someone younger or demonstrates a pattern of terminating older employees. The federal Age Discrimination and Employment Act protects individuals over the age of 40 from being discriminated against or wrongfully terminated due to their age. New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination also protects anyone over the age of 18 from being terminated because an employer may decide they’re too young or too old for the job, unless the employer can establish that there was some legitimate business reason why that person could not do the job.

Wrongfully Terminating Employees of a Certain Religion

An employee may have a valid wrongful termination based on religion claim when they can establish that their termination was based in part on the fact that they are a member of a certain religious group or observes a certain religion. Religion is one of the protected classes defined under state law and could therefore play an important role in Cherry Hill wrongful termination cases.

Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications in the Context of Religion-Based Terminations

A bona fide occupational qualification is a factor that an employer feels an employee must have in order to perform the duties of their job. An example would be an occupational qualification that requires workers to be available to work weekends (i.e., law enforcement officers), but a person may be of a certain religion that requires them to observe the Sabbath or a holy day where they can’t come to work every weekend. The employer may not be liable for discrimination if they either don’t hire that person or terminate them.

Other Protected Classes in Cherry Hill

Wrongful termination based on race is when an employer fires an employee because of their race, has a pattern of terminating employees of the same race, or replaces individuals of a specific race with people of a different race. Local business owners are also prohibited from wrongfully terminating an employee based on their nationality or national origin, which involves firing an employee on the basis of his or her birth or ancestral nation. Both race and national origin are considered protected classes in our area.

Pregnant Employees

Pregnant employees are also a protected class in Cherry Hill. When an employer terminates an employee either during or soon after that individual’s pregnancy, the worker may have a valid claim for damages. A local business owner could also be held liable for firing a worker either when they learn of the pregnancy or when the individual requests leave for the pregnancy.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal statute that applies to employers of a certain size, specifically all public and private businesses with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius. Employees who have worked at a given business for at least one year and over 1,250 hours during that year are entitled under the FMLA to take up to 12-weeks unpaid leave over the course of a year. That leave may be taken continuously or intermittently.

The law protects employees from being terminated during that time. The goal of the FMLA is to hold somebody’s job for them while they take a leave of absence to either care for themselves or a family member. If the leave lasts longer than 12 weeks, the employer may not be obligated to hold the employee’s job any longer than that.