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New Jersey Employment Law Blog

Can an employer fire someone for political reasons?

In recent months, the political conversation in America has grown very tense, and demonstrators have chosen to rally and protest a number of politically divisive issues. While this is an important part of the political process, it also creates a great deal of confusion about the boundaries of free speech and how exercising free speech may incur consequences. Clearly, these are very difficult things to discuss fairly and professionally, but are also important to understand.

One particularly difficult issue is whether or not an employer can fire an employee for choosing to participate in controversial political speech. While it is still shocking to most of America, several groups supporting white nationalism have gained a great deal of exposure in recent weeks, and pictures of individuals marching, chanting or otherwise participating in controversial demonstrations has resulted in many calls for anyone who employs individuals who identify with political hate groups to fire them.

Are attentive drivers the minority?

According to the National Safety Council, motor vehicle deaths have risen by 14 percent since 2014. The reasons for the increase are a matter of significant discussion among safety experts. The most common culprits discussed are increasing traffic congestion, more speeding and a rise in distracted driving. Part of the discussion is whether one of the tools used to curb distracted driving deaths may actually be contributing to them.

A technological crutch

Employment discrimination by appearance

Employers are allowed to conduct themselves in any number of horrible ways. Some employers regularly make stupid decisions when it comes to work policies, hiring and firing decisions and more. The law does not protect workers from every bad decision made by an incompetent boss. The law does, however, protect employees who are denied overtime, or who are harassed, bullied or discriminated against for a protected reason.

One form of poor conduct that might not violate employment law is when employers favor employees or applicants they consider attractive. It would be nice to think that qualifications, effort and output carried the day at a job, but the reality is that some employers would rather promote someone pretty than someone hard-working. Of course, being attractive has no bearing on a person’s ability to be a good employee. In an ideal world, it would not be considered a positive or a negative to be physically attractive in the employment setting.

Steps for confronting employee rights violations

If you believe that your employer is violating employee rights, it is not always easy to know what to do. Of course, you don't want to sit silently and watch employee mistreatment happen, or suffer under it yourself.

You have an opportunity to stand up for justice and fair treatment, but you must take the first steps to get there. One of the first things you need to do is meet with your employer about the issue. Knowing how to behave in this meeting is crucial.

New Jersey employer reaches agreement with nurses' union

Hospitals and medical care centers are certainly a good place to go when you suffer an injury, but for the nurses who staff them, these establishments often pose serious health risks if company policies do not provide adequate support to the staff. This conflict was at the heart of a recent negotiation between a New Jersey medical center and a nurses' union.

The heart of the conflict that motivated the nurses' union to make demands to the employer focused on the nurses own well-being and their ability to provide proper care to patients. Among the grievances were not only some issues surrounding pay scale, but also an ongoing need for more nurses working on any given shift. Many health care providers only staff the minimum amount of required nurses at any one time, often overworking nurses and compromising the quality of care that they can provide.

New law offers protections for transgender students, employees

Governor Christie has passed a new law aimed at creating protections for transgender individuals attending New Jersey schools. While the bill does have its fair share of detractors, it is an important step forward in recognizing transgender rights and moving the state's academic and professional communities toward more inclusive support of individual rights.

Under the new law, transgender students in schools throughout the Garden State enjoy some freedoms and support that may aid them in achieving more acceptance throughout many communities. Among other provisions, the law requires that schools do not force a student to use a bathroom or locker room does not match their gender identity.

B&H faces employee protests over warehouse relocation

A New York organization has partnered with employees of B&H Photo to protest an upcoming move that may mean hundreds of employees losing their jobs. Not only does B&H have a history of complaints about worker treatment, the planned move of some warehouses from New York to New Jersey may violate labor laws.

In November, roughly 80 percent of the employees voted in favor of creating a union, which many see as the motivation for the announced move to New Jersey. The company has also come under fire for its treatment of workers as recently as February, 2016, when it faced accusations and punishment from two separate government agencies. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined the company for several labor violations in its warehouses, while the Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against it only a week later for "discriminatory practices" against its primarily Hispanic warehouse workforce.

Lawmakers approve back pay for government workers

The recent government shutdown here in New Jersey may have come and gone for the rest of the country, but for our government workers, the lost time will translate directly to lost pay, at least for now. It also serves to highlight an often-overlooked issue for government workers — in the event of a shutdown, what are they supposed to do about the lost time they won't be paid for?

Fortunately, a plan is already in place to retroactively pay employees for the lost wages, but it required a special assembly at the Statehouse to work out the fine points. It took an emergency meeting by the state legislature to work out a bill to authorize the back payment, which Governor Christie previously said was not something to count on.

The outsized impact of smart phones on safe driving

The right way to handle smart phones has eluded lawmakers and safety experts for some time. The devices went from novel to ubiquitous relatively quickly. In 2016, 77 percent of Americans owned a smart phone. Many of those Americans cannot or do not resist the temptation to use their phones while driving. Recent research suggests that even drivers who lay their phones aside when they drive might still be at an increased risk of getting into an accident.

Using a smart phone while driving is incredibly dangerous. Studies show that even hands-free talking on the phone takes too much of a person’s concentration off the road. When it comes to texting, browsing or using other applications that require the hands and eyes to complete, the danger should be obvious to anyone. Less obvious, however, is the reduction in ability focus based merely on the presence of a smart phone. Experiments have identified a type of cognitive impairment termed “brain drain” that comes from proximity to a smart device.

Employment Discrimination And Pregnancy

Women face levels of workplace harassment and employment abuses that most men simply don't understand. Even basic concepts like "equal pay for equal work" are routinely violated by employers. Sexual harassment, the glass ceiling, discriminatory dress codes and other practices serve to hold women back from equal participation in the workforce. A recent case highlighted another form of discrimination that some female employees are forced to reckon with: pregnancy discrimination.

Nearly 40 years ago, Congress amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act Of 1964 to make it clear that pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination. Despite decades to get their houses in order, employers are still violating the rights of female workers who become pregnant. A job applicant recently saw her job offer rescinded when the employer discovered she was pregnant. The company’s stated reason for withdrawing the offer was that it wanted someone in the position “long term.” Such a blatant violation of the law should be shocking, but for many women it is just par for the course.

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