Employment laws in New Jersey are the set of laws that protect employees from claims of wrongful termination, sexual harassment, retaliation, discrimination and other employee-related actions in the workplace. Employment laws can be violated in varying ways. The perpetrators can be employers/CEOs, supervisors/managers, fellow employees, and even non-employees. Violating employment laws is illegal under both federal and state laws. For over 25 years, the experienced attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group in New Jersey have helped employees who have been victims of employment law violations get the compensation they deserve.
There are eight categories of employment law cases that often occur in the workplace. The issues range from discrimination in the workplace, harassment, incorrect classifications of employment, employment contract issues, family medical leave issues, wrongful termination, retaliation, whistleblower claims, and sexual harassment.
1. Discrimination. Discrimination in the workplace in New Jersey occurs when an employer/CEO, supervisor/Manager, fellow employee, customer, vendor, or other non-employee unfairly treats or harasses an employee or job applicant because he or she is between the ages of 18 and 70, is of a certain religion, race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation, maintains a certain military status, maintains a certain citizenship status, is disabled, pregnant, or is a member of any other protected class under federal or New Jersey state law.
2. Wrongful Termination. Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires an employee because he or she is a member of a protected class, is out of work due to family medical leave, refuses sexual advances, reports a discrimination issue, or is a whistleblower. While New Jersey is an at-will state for employment, wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired for an unlawful or protected reason.
3. Retaliation. Retaliation occurs when an employer conducts an action intended to punish an employee for an act that is not punishable for law. For instance, an employee who is fired, demoted, or has a reduction in pay because he or she has reported discriminatory behavior, is a whistleblower or even reports a wage and hour issue has been the victim of retaliation. An employee calling ICE because he or she wants to get back at an employee or job applicant is also committing an act of retaliation.
4. Wage and Hour. Wage and hour claims arise when an employee is denied overtime pay (1.5x his or her salary for any hours worked over 40 hours in one week), classified as an exempt employee when he or she is not a manager, supervisor, makes under $23,650 a year or conducts work that qualifies as a nonexempt employee. This also occurs when an employee is classified as an independent contractor or is paid under the table. IN both instances, the employee is denied benefits and overtime pay which he or she rightfully deserves under the law and the IRS and state tax organizations are being denied money that is legally owed.
5. Sexual Harassment. Sexual harassment is unwanted physical contact, sexual advances, or sexual comments and jokes. Whether the employer, co-worker, supervisor, or non-employee is making sexual advances when the employee clearly said no or is told that accepting the advances will result in a better working environment (quid pro quo) sexual harassment is illegal and should not be tolerated.
6. Family Leave Act. Federal law allows an employee of a company of 50 or more people to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off from work to care for a relative with medical needs or bond with a newborn or adopted child without the fear of losing his or her job or pay. New Jersey also uses the New Jersey Family Leave Act to allow employees of any size company to take 12 weeks of paid leave from a job within 24 months to care for a sick family member or bond with a newborn or adopted child.
7. Whistleblower. In New Jersey, a whistleblower is an employee who reports unlawful activity to a person or public entity able to act on the information. This employee is protected under the law and cannot be fired or otherwise retaliated against. The New Jersey whistleblower laws also protect an employee who refuses to participate int eh illegal activity as instructed by the employer.
8. Employment Contract and Noncompete Clause. Employment contracts and noncompete clauses can be provided to an employee upon signing onto work with a company. However, there may be pieces of the contract or noncompete clause that are unenforceable.
Employment law claims in New Jersey can come in many forms. Some examples of employment law claims include:
- Retaliation for refusing sexual advances
- Wrongful termination of a whistleblower
- Refusing to keep a position for an employee taking New Jersey Family Medical Leave
- Refusing to provide a pregnant employee enough hours to qualify for benefits
- Sexism in the workplace
- Refusing to hire a person because he or she is too old or too young for the position
- Making jokes about a person who is married to a person of a certain skin color
- Refusing to promote an employee who is from a certain nation of origin
- Denying an employee the opportunity to work on a project because he or she has a thick foreign accent
- Refusing to allow a Muslim employee time to pray
- Refusing to allow a Jewish employee the right to wear a yarmulke at work
- Denying the use of public accommodations to a job applicant because of his or her race
- Refusing to make proper accommodations for a disabled employee
- Reporting an employee to ICE as retaliation
- Denying an employee the right to obtain gainful employment with another company due to the noncompete clause
- Making sexual jokes that an employee clearly finds offensive
- Outing an employee who is part of the LGBTQ community without the employee’s consent
- Denying use of public accommodations to transgender employees
These are just some of the many lawsuits that can fit under the employment law heading in New Jersey and federal court.
If you have an employment law claim in New Jersey, you may be entitled to relief through the courts. Some of the remedies available include:
- Reinstatement of employment and/or benefits
- Reimbursement of benefit premiums
- Reimbursement of medical and other related expenses
- Back pay
- Future pay
- Reassignment or termination of the perpetrator of employment law violations
- Attorney’s fees
- Review and revamping policies and procedures
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional Distress
- Punitive damages
Certain employment laws include additional remedies, such as the New Jersey Whistleblower protections, which allow the employee to receive up to 3 times the damages the state receives for an offense.
Every employee has the right to a safe work environment, free from discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, and other employment law violations. If you have been a victim of New Jersey employment law violations, the Derek Smith Law Group can help. Contact us (973) 388-8625 for a free consultation. We do not collect any money until you win your case.