Can an At-Will Employee With No Contract of Employment and No Promise Or Term of Employment File For Judgement?

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Employment and Contract Law Attorney

The “you work for me at my will” commonly referred to as the “at-will doctrine” remains the rule of New Jersey employment law today.  Absent a writing specifying the term, or duration, of the employment relationship, under the common law in New Jersey, the employment is presumed to be terminable at-will.   The employment at-will doctrine means that, in the absence of an employment contract, the employment relationship can be terminated by either the employee or the employer at any time and for any reason, with or without notice or cause, unless prohibited by law or public policy.

Thus, when employment in New Jersey is not for a definite term and there is no contractual or statutory restriction on the right of termination, an employer may lawfully discharge an employee whenever and for whatever cause – so long as that cause or reason is not discriminatory or against public policy. If so, the employer is, without liability.

Even where there is an employment contract, if it does not specify that the employment will last for a specific duration, the agreement is presumed to be of an indefinite duration, and therefore, terminable at-will by either party.   At-will employees do not have any property interest in employment and as such, at will employees cannot support a claim that termination amounts to a violation of property rights.

As such, a plaintiff who files a claim for wrongful termination and breach of an employment contract and for future or lost pay and benefits will likely be unsuccessful where he or she is an at-will employee, even one who was unfairly terminated unless there is evidence or facts to support an allegation that his or her termination was discriminatory or against public policy.

To discuss your NJ Employment and Contract Law matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.

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