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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I have been working nursing home as an external case manager

Customer Question

I have been working for a nursing home as an external case manager admitting patients from hospitals to the facility. I do not work inside the nursing home but am at the hospital every day.
A few weeks ago a new Business Development Director was hired. He hired another liaison when there were already 2 of us and at times that seemed to be more than enough. He didn't tell us about her for a while and when he did he told us that the "powers to be" wanted us fired. He said that he was going to see how things went. On July 11 I was off(my first vacation day in ages) and he called a meeting. He gave the new liaison my hospitals and sent her there that day. The hospital employees could not believe how this transpired and how I was being treated when she introduced herself.
I was given 2 different hospitals which I have been calling on since July 12. I have had quite a few referrals there and my former hospitals have been eerily quiet since I am no longer there. Today I was called and told that my new assignment was going to be inside the admissions office until they hired a business manager (which we haven't had in ages). The new hire would call on my 2 new hospitals while I was helping out.
It is so obvious to me that they want me to quit. I have worked in this position for nearly 5 years and have been extremely successful. I have been in outside sales/marketing positions since 1990 and have never worked inside for any company nor would I accept a position doing so.
I just want them to let me go. I need to get unemployment until I find a new job so don't feel that I am in a position to just quit. I am a cancer survivor (unbeknownst to them) and am scared that all of this stress will compromise my health. I had ovarian cancer Stage IIIC in 2004 and am truly a walking miracle. I can't afford to have anything cause too much stress.
We live in NJ. Do I have any rights here? I didn't accept an inside, clerical position and my base salary is $82,000 so it is quite obvious that I am overpaid to do that. I have accepted that things have changed and I need to get another position. Can they torture me like this?
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 3 months ago.

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.

The general rule is that employment in the state of New Jersey is "at will" absent an express agreement to the contrary. At will employment can be terminated or modified for any reason not amounting to discrimination on the basis of a legally protected trait (race, religion, gender, etc.) or retaliation for engaging in certain forms of legally protected conduct (filing a wage claim, taking FMLA leave, etc.). It doesn't matter whether the basis for termination or modification is fair, reasonable or even true.

So, there is nothing inherently illegal about them trying to get you to quit, despite your successes with the company and despite the fact that what they are doing is extremely unfair. You could quit and try to argue that you quit for reasons amounting to "good cause," which is what you'd need to establish in order to collect unemployment benefits. However, the standard for proving good cause is extremely high. Essentially, you have to prove that your work environment is so unbearable that no person genuinely desirous of remaining employed would have done so under the circumstances.

This is generally not the advisable course of action, though. The far better and more certain cause of action is to remain employed as you search for other employment, then simply quit once you've secured another job. This way, there is no gap in your employment history and you don't risk the possibility of being denied benefits with no way to support yourself. The prospect of that happening would seem to be far more stressful than enduring this employment for a few more weeks until you find another job. Of course, I am not in your shoes and do not know exactly what you are going through. Quitting and attempting to collect unemployment on the ground that you quit for reasons amounting to good cause is the other option, and only you can decide what to do for yourself.

I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.