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New Jersey Employment Law Blog

Exotic dancers win class-action lawsuit

Just because a person works in an industry that some portions of the public object to does not mean that they deserve fewer protections than any other type of worker. Workers rights advocates and exotic dancers alike won a significant victory recently, when a federal judge ruled in favor of nearly 30,000 dancers in a class action suit against a chain of nightclubs that operates across several states.

According to the suit, the primary issue was that the clubs maintained unfair employment classification policies that often left the dancers working for less than minimum wage. Prior to the ruling, the clubs did not classify the dancers as employees, but rather as independent contractors who were required to pay a fee in order to perform. Furthermore, the dancers were often required to share a portion of their tips with other staff members.

New Jersey Attorney General's Office accused of discrimination

Workplace discrimination can happen in any workplace, regardless of the industry or sector. This was recently demonstrated right here in New Jersey as three attorneys general filed claims against the Attorney General's Office, accusing officials there of systematic discrimination toward African-American employees.

The suit alleges that the Attorney General's Office cultivates a culture that under-represents black employees in mid- and upper-level positions, despite the fact that the office maintains reasonable diversity at the very top levels. According to the suit, the three plaintiffs met with their superiors to discuss the issue and work together to create a path forward to a more diverse workplace at all levels of the institution. However, they claim that in the subsequent year since making these suggestions, little or no action has taken place to actively increase diversity of the office's workforce.

Is workplace bullying legal?

If you work in a professional space, then you have probably experienced unkind treatment at one point or another. While a great fuss gets made about workplace harassment, where do you draw the line between between actual discrimination and a coworker or superior simply being a mean, bullying person?

The unfortunate news is that workplace bullying is not technically harassment or discrimination. However, if you are a member of some protected classes, like religions, racial minorities or women, you may have a legitimate claim that your experience amounts to harassment.

Wrongful termination and employment agreement violations

When most people think of wrongful termination, they generally envision an employer discriminating against an employee when firing them, or letting someone go as retaliation for speaking up about poor work conditions or violations of regulations. However, some wrongful terminations are far less personal or even intentional. If your employer fired you in violation of your employment agreement, this may also constitute wrongful termination.

If your employment contract contains clauses that promise certain schedules for advancement or state that your job remains secure except for very specific circumstances, then you may have been wrongfully terminated.

Employers may not discriminate because of bankruptcy

Workplace discrimination can take many forms, some of them more surprising than others. When we think of workplace discrimination, we generally think of sexual harassment from a superior, or an employer who does not respect the race or religion of an employee.

However, some employers or potential employers also take an improper interest in an employee's or applicant's personal finances, especially when it comes to bankruptcy proceedings. If you worry that a bankruptcy procedure may adversely affect your career, or suspect that an employer already discriminates against you because of bankruptcy, you need to seek proper legal guidance immediately.

What Does Age Discrimination Look Like?

In an ideal workplace, every employee is valued based on their knowledge, skills, and work ethic. Unfortunately, not all workplaces operate that way. Workplace discrimination is all too common, and can rear its ugly head in a variety of ways.

Age discrimination is one example of discrimination in the workplace. It involves the unfair treatment of employees on the basis of age. Some examples of age discrimination at work include:

Can I expect any privacy at work?

When you work for an employer, there is often confusion about exactly how much privacy you can expect while at your job. Most commonly, employees face issues of privacy involving their communications with others and their employee's right to monitor those communications. Although your employer does retain broad rights to monitor your communication, these rights do have limits. Unfortunately, many employers do not recognize or abide by these limits.

If you use a phone to make a personal call at work, you do have some privacy protection under the Electronics Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which generally limits an employer to monitoring personal calls only if you know that they are doing so and consent to it. In some cases, this may apply to calls made from phones on the worksite itself. This is far more difficult to parse when a personal call is made on a mobile device owned by the employer.

Sexual violence in schools

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 prohibits schools from discriminating on the basis of sex. The Supreme Court has interpreted Title IX to cover sexual harassment or assault in schools. While sexual assaults at the college level have drawn media attention in recent years, assaults in K-12 schools often fly under the radar. Many schools react indifferently or with hostility to students who report being the victims of sexual violence. The government agency responsible for addressing these complaints is barely making a dent and is facing likely budget cuts under the current administration. Students are often left feeling like they have no recourse.

Schools owe their students more

College president fights back after firing

Wrongful termination can happen in just about any setting, not only the public business sector. Recently, right here in New Jersey, the president of a college and an attorney for the institution filed a lawsuit alleging that they were let go after looking into financial issues within the school. According to the suit, the plaintiffs claim that the Board of Trustees colluded to oust the two after they raised concerns about certain conduct within the financial department, some of which may have even qualified as criminal.

Furthermore, the suit alleges that the reasons given for the terminations were in fact groundless. If that is the case, many more heads could roll pending an outside investigation. In addition to their suit against the school, the two also filed a suit to enforce their reinstatement to their previous positions.

Subcontractors fight back for fair pay

When you work as a subcontractor, it is absolutely crucial that your employer pays you properly and on time. Of course, if you work as a subcontractor, you already know that this does not always happen. While many workers shrug it off as part of the business, employers who underpay are breaking the law, and should be held accountable.

This frustrating experience was recently illustrated by a local contractor who allegedly underpaid subcontractors. A number of subcontracting carpenters claim the New Jersey contractor shorted them on appropriate overtime pay and violated payroll law.