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New Jersey Employment Law Blog

Can I expect any privacy in the workplace?

As an employee, you may not consider what rights you do or do not have in the workplace until you find one or more of them possibly violated. Unfortunately, many employees across all sectors of employment do not fully understand the nature of their rights in the workplace, and fail to defend those rights when an employer violates them. If you believe that your employer violated your employee rights, or simply want to better understand what you can expect in the workplace, you may want to consult with an employment law attorney.

Individual rights to privacy in the workplace are often very poorly understood, by both employees and employers. On top of this, different types of jobs offer greater or lesser degrees of privacy, depending on the nature of the employer and the position an employee holds.

Religious discrimination and prayer in the workplace

How an employer treats inter-office communication can be an important factor in whether employees are singled out for discrimination. Invitations to join a religious gathering or join in a prayer for any reason could easily open the door for unlawful discrimination. The right to observe the religion of your choice, or refrain from joining in a religious observance that does not match your beliefs, is guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and under New Jersey law. If you are penalized or persecuted for your religious beliefs, your employer is violating the law.

Invitation or order?

Is your employer denying you fair disability accommodation?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), disabled employees throughout the country enjoy protection from discrimination in the workplace. In addition to protection from discrimination, the ADA requires employers to provide "reasonable accommodation" to disabled employees.

If you are an employee with a disability, do you know your employer's responsibilities toward you? Do you believe that they actually fulfill those responsibilities? This issue can get very complex very quickly. In some cases, an employer can refuse to offer a specific accommodation to a disabled employee if it places an "undue hardship" on the business. An employer may also counterclaim that an employee's disability does not qualify as a disability or deny that employee is disabled at all.

Misclassified employees are often owed back pay

Depending on the nature of your job and other factors, your employer may misclassify you as an exempt employee. Employee misclassification is a significant problem in many industries, and one that employers are rarely eager to fix. If you face misclassification, whether an employer misclassifies you as an exempt employee accidentally or purposefully, you still must deal the same consequences.

One of the primary issues with employee misclassification is that it allows an employer to avoid granting certain benefits to employees, such as overtime pay. While there are many jobs that do not receive overtime pay, there are many jobs that should receive overtime pay but do not. If your employer owes you back pay for overtime work you were not properly compensated for accomplishing, you may have to take a number of steps to address the issue.

Do alcoholic employees have rights in the workplace?

As an employee, you have certain rights that you must understand and enforce, if necessary. Some of these issues get exceptionally complicated, especially when it comes to employees who struggle with appropriate alcohol consumption. Your employer may have certain obligations to you if you struggle with alcoholism, but you also face some additional dangers that other employees may never encounter.

Alcoholics are generally protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but that does not mean that an alcoholic can behave poorly in the workplace without repercussions. Whereas an employer may have to make reasonable accommodations for alcoholics, such as if a person undergoes rehabilitation treatment, employers do not have to tolerate drinking in the workplace.

What damages are available in workplace sexual harassment suits?

If you experience sexual harassment in the workplace, you have some very important decisions to make about how you respond. Your first step is to alert your employer to the harassment, which, a perfect world would be the end of the matter. Unfortunately, there is often much more to this particular fight, and many cases of sexual harassment in the workplace lead to a sexual harassment lawsuit. Before you decide to dig in with a sexual harassment suit, it is wise to understand what you can expect.

Suing for sexual harassment usually requires a government agency issuing you a right-to-sue letter. Once you obtain this, you can bring a civil suit against the parties responsible. Many individuals who suffer sexual harassment worry that they may have to prove they suffered some form of physical injury in such a suit, but these suits tend to focus on emotional and mental injuries, rather than physical injuries.

3 elements required to prove retaliatory firing

You took a stand, stuck your neck out for what you believe is right, and now you're pretty sure that you got fired for it. Retaliatory firing is absolutely unlawful. But, how can you prove that your firing was retaliatory? It is doubtful that any employer would freely admit to a retaliatory firing, after all.

In broad terms, proving that an employer fired you has three components. First, it is important to demonstrate that you took action as part of some protected activity. Protected activities include cooperating with investigations or subpoenas, or reporting illegal activity to a regulatory agency, among others.

No leave to discriminate

When it comes to parental leave, the U.S. lags far behind other developed countries in terms of employee rights. American employers are required to provide woefully little to employees who have children. Despite the paucity of parental leave rights, companies still find ways to run afoul of the law in establishing their policies. In many cases, the failure comes from an antiquated view of what family life really is.

The "traditional" family

Employers must respect pregnant employees

Discrimination in the workplace can take many faces, but one of the most frustrating and inexcusable is that brought against pregnant employees. Pregnancy discrimination is mind-bogglingly widespread, despite the fact that every person within a given company or agency also owes his or her life to pregnancy.

Simply put, some employers take this essential part of the human experience and treat it as an inconvenience or disadvantage in the workplace. Often, pregnancy discrimination occurs before a job is even offered. Many pregnant job applicants worry that their potential employers may pass them over because of their pregnancy, which is more common than you might think. According to the law, it is not permissible for an employer to refuse to hire someone because of a pregnancy.

Sexual harassment at work-sponsored warm-weather events

Now that Labor Day Weekend has come and gone, the summer season is unofficially over. But if you happened to attend any work-sponsored social events this summer -- especially any that involved alcohol -- the drama of summer may be far from over.

Many employers are careful to limit alcohol consumption during winter holiday parties because of increased risks of drunk driving and inappropriate employee behavior. But summer is often overlooked, and the same dangerous dynamic is often in place when employers serve alcohol at work-sponsored events.

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