Q: My employer is attempting to suspend me without pay as punishment for performance. Nothing is in our handbook. Can they?
I was given a performance improvement plan as my first written disciplinary infraction after being employed for approximately a year and a half. Suspension is not mentioned as a consequence. No review of my performance was ever conducted. I as given a self review to fill out months ago, which I returned, and gave myself a minimum of satisfactory in all performance areas. It was handed in and never acknowledged. I am a case manager who is non-exempt.
A: New Jersey is an at-will state, meaning an employer can discipline or terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all, so long as the reason is not an illegal reason. An employer's failure to follow its own disciplinary procedures may be viewed a pre-text in cases of discrimination. However, the employee, as the potential plaintiff, must first allege a prima facie case for discrimination, harassment or other illegal employment reason.
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