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New Jersey Employment Law Blog

New Jersey considers $15 minimum wage

As more and more workers face the realities of inflation outpacing wage growth, people in entry-level positions often suffer the most difficulty finding financial footing. However, New Jersey lawmakers are considering some big shifts in wage laws that may relieve some of this mounting pressure. They are considering legislation to raise the minimum wage from its current rate to approximately $15 per hour.

For those who work in minimum wage positions, this constitutes a near-doubling of their current wages. While many economists differ on whether raising the minimum wage so drastically may ultimately hurt low-wage employees or help them, at the street level, this is a big boon for workers demanding better treatment and fair wages.

Survey shows workplace harassment is common

A recent survey conducted by an international insurance provider identified sexual harassment as the most prevalent type of misconduct in the workplace. The findings of the survey are no surprise to people in the employment law field. Employers have long tolerated this form of abuse. Many still maintain written or unwritten policies that contribute to a workplace culture rife with hostility and harassment, much of it based on gender or sex.

The numbers are in

Service Animals - More Than Just Dogs

When people hear the term "service animal" they almost automatically default to a vision of a service dog. However, there are a number of other animals that provide service to the disabled. For instance, since at least the 1970s people with spinal cord and other mobility impairments have received highly trained capuchin monkeys. The only service animal, other than a dog, recognized by federal law is a miniature horse. As more and more medical providers explore the benefits of service and support animals, additional species are added to list. Have you heard of therapy chickens? It is a real thing. 

Can an employer deny benefits based on a worker’s age?

These days, keeping a job as an aging employee can feel more and more precarious with each passing year. As a younger, often cheaper to employ workforce swells in size, older workers with more experience regularly find companies looking for ways to hasten them out the door. While this is sometimes understandable from a very cynical, nothing but-the-numbers standpoint, it is far from an ethical practice.

One of the most common reasons that employers want to offload aging employees is the increased cost of health care as they age. Of course, considering the ballooning costs of health care, keeping your company benefits is an important part of your safety and well-being. It is good news, then, that the law restricts employers from denying benefits to an employee based on their age. Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, employers may not discriminate against an employee or potential employee for their age or they may face serious penalties.

Atlantic City public employees demand fair treatment

Public employees throughout Atlantic City are pushing back against what many see as an unfair reduction in rights and privileges by the local government. Some of the unions that represent these workers are considering lawsuits to reclaim civil service status for workers across many different areas of the public sector, including workers from public offices like city hall to firefighters and police, all of whom lost civil service status in 2016 as a part of a takeover of public works and services by the state.

Without civil service status, unions and workers have fewer means to resolve problems that the workforce faces. In many instances, fewer employees now shoulder many more responsibilities, stretching services thin and making it more difficult for public employees to do their jobs effectively or receive fair compensation. In contrast to other areas of New Jersey, Atlantic City public employees often receive meager benefits and face increased workloads with fewer resources to address them.

Is it legal to record an employer in New Jersey?

With the flurry of news stories involving secret recordings that have come out in recent weeks and months, many employees have understandable concerns about whether or not it is legal to make "secret" recordings in their own workplaces. This is a complicated issue, because it deals with ethical boundaries as well as legal boundaries. However, there are some clear facts that are good to know.

In both New Jersey and New York, employees retain the right to make recordings of conversations between them and another person, without the knowledge of the other party. While this is not always an ethical course of action, and may present significant security risks depending on the nature of workplace, the law is generally on the side of the party who chooses to record the conversation.

Claiming wrongful termination from at-will employment

It is not always simple to know when or if you can challenge your termination from work, especially if you are employed at-will. An overly simplistic understanding of at-will employment may lead many people to think that an employer can simply fire an employee for any reason without recourse, but this is not the case.

At-will employment does not do away with wrongful termination, although it does raise the bar on what qualifies as wrongful. Under at-will employment law, both the employer and the employee maintain the right to end the arrangement at any time without a particular reason. However, this does not mean that all reasons for firing an employee are acceptable.

Are lunch breaks guaranteed to workers in New Jersey?

No matter what industry you work in or the complexity of your work life, you have to eat. As a worker, performing shifts without a break to eat and rest can greatly decrease your ability to deliver quality work and may sink your productivity significantly. However, not all employers are legally required to offer lunch breaks, as counterintuitive as that might be.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there is no federal mandate that requires employers to offer a lunch break of any particular length to employees, although there are laws that restrict how long workers may spend on a particular shift without a break.

Consenting to theft in the workplace

The term "unpaid wages" may conjure up images of a small clerical error on a company's vast accounting records. A better term for the issue is wage theft. Wages don't disappear. Companies steal them from the employees who are their rightful owners. Wage theft is a massive problem, partly because so many employers are confident they can get away with it.

How it works

Some industries are full of predators

Sexual harassment occurs in every industry. It is a reality faced by countless workers, women and men, all across the country. While there is no career path you can choose that will guarantee a harassment free existence, there are some careers that nearly guarantee exposure to this disgusting conduct.

A recent investigation into the photojournalism business paints the picture of an industry-wide boy's club where women are targets for behavior that would be considered unacceptable even by antiquated standards. By today's more egalitarian (though still far from perfect) standards, the behavior is nothing short of sickening.

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