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New Jersey Employment Law Blog

Can my employer keep me from discussing salary at work?

Many employers have surprisingly inaccurate ideas about what they can and cannot require of their employees, often placing guidelines into their employee handbooks or company policies that run contrary to the actual law of the land. In many, many instances, these violations of the law and of employees rights go unchecked because employees just assume that the employer knows what they're doing.

Realistically, this is a huge assumption. There's no guarantee that any person in a position of authority is there because they fully understand all the laws that govern the workplace. In some cases, these types of conflicts or violations go unchallenged for months or even years, creating a toxic workplace.

Unsafe driving in New Jersey school zones

Bad driving is a threat to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists on roads all over the nation. Motor vehicle accidents claim tens of thousands of lives a year. Recently, there has been an uptick in fatal accidents per mile driven. Driving safety appears to be on the decline.

A recent study used phone and driver data to assign grades to drivers in each of the states in terms of driving safety in school zones. New Jersey finished a disappointing 34th in the country. New Jersey drivers were given a C- for their actions in operating a motor vehicle near schools.

Sports bar ordered to pay back wages to former employees

Right down the road in New Brunswick, a sports bar recently faced a court order to pay almost $60,000 in unpaid wages to former employees. The order came after a multi-year lawsuit on the part of six former employees. According to the suit, the employees claimed that the bar did not uphold minimum wage laws. The bar is only one of about 70 franchised locations throughout the country.

The suit claimed that many employees were instructed to perform tasks they were not paid to complete, and also went without proper overtime pay. In some instances, employees were not paid for their mandatory training, and some employees were ordered to perform task considerably outside of their designated job duties.

Are you an exempt employee under federal law?

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), many different types of employees may hold their employers accountable to pay them at least minimum wage and appropriate overtime pay for any more than 40 hours of work in a given work week. However, many other types of employees do not qualify for protection under the FLSA if their jobs meet certain qualifications. These exempt employees may legally work for less than minimum wage or go without overtime pay.

While there are some specific exemptions to individual professions, most exemptions are determined based on whether or not a job meets three tests. Exempt employees generally:

  • Make more than the yearly-adjusted threshold
  • Get paid a salary
  • Perform exempt duties as part of the job

Identifying sexual harassment in the workplace

The last several months have seen a sudden and surprising sea change in the public conversation surrounding sexual harassment in many different work environments and professional settings. Understandably, this has lead to great confusion for many individuals who may believe that they too experience sexual harassment in the workplace but don't know how to address it correctly. Still others may remain unclear on whether or not some particular behavior actually counts as legally actionable sexual harassment or is merely a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of other behavior.

These issues are remarkably complicated and deserve sober judgment, especially in light of ongoing revelations of just how many individuals experience sexual harassment in the workplace across every sector of public and private employment.

New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Trial Lawyer Discusses The Many "Firsts" of the 2017 Elections

Or..."Well, It Turns Out America Is Great Again, But For all the Right Reasons"

Not that it really should surprise anyone of conscience or common sense, but the public approval of President Trump has dropped to a historic low. Yes, he's got his "core" base of people who - for whatever now incredibly questionable reasons - still support him, but a satisfyingly thick majority of people - a number of which, based on how math works, had to have been people who voted for him a year ago - are now clearly displeased with his pathologically dishonest, inane, insulting, deplorable, disgusting, cynical, ignorant, uninformed, discourteous, disrespectful, racist, homophobic and misogynistic policies, ideas and communications.

Those people were heard from this past Election Day. 

The sexist view of sexual harassment

It is not difficult to find questionable, or even insulting advice online about how to avoid being accused of sexual harassment. The notion that someone can find themselves the "accidental" perpetrator of harassment is ridiculous. It is not a fine line between appropriate interactions and sexual harassment. Harassment is unquestionably disgusting behavior and the individuals who perpetrate it, as well as employers who tolerate it are clearly in the wrong.

Quid pro quo harassment

No, your boss can't fire you just because he or she dislikes you

Whenever a person experiences discrimination in the workplace, the reality of the matter is that it is very likely that he or she is not the only one experiencing such treatment. Individuals who discriminate often either don't realize the seriousness of their actions or believe that they are above consequences. Practically speaking, this means that you may have allies with similar experiences in your workplace who can help strengthen your claims of discrimination.

One aspect of at-will employment that both employees and employers often misunderstand is that this system does not give an employer freedom to fire someone simply because the boss doesn't like the employee, or some other reason that is primarily personal and not business related. However, many managers, superiors and chief executive officers (CEOs) seem to think that it is perfectly fine to let someone go if he or she just doesn't fit their preferences.

Do you face pregnancy discrimination in the workplace?

Of the many kinds of discrimination that women often face in the workplace, one of the most baffling is often discrimination because of a pregnancy. The kind of detachment necessary for an employer to punish or mistreat a pregnant employee simply because of the pregnancy is truly staggering. After all, each and every person alive throughout the world at any given moment is the product of a pregnancy. In many ways, there is hardly a more unifying human event than a pregnancy. Still, many women face unfair treatment in the workplace because a pregnancy, such as several employees in a New Jersey real estate group.

According to complaints, not only did the employer fire the women shortly after they disclosed their respective pregnancies, a superior in the company allegedly also said some very tone deaf things about pregnant employees, such as "pregnancy makes you retarded," and "when women get pregnant, they get stupid."

Strengthening your wrongful termination claim

If you believe that you were recently wrongly terminated from your job, there is a chance you can bring a successful wrongful termination suit and find justice — but even in a successful scenario, you're a long way from the finish line. In the meantime, the actions you take now may help you weather this difficult season well or dismantle your claim. Be sure to consider how your actions may affect the fair settlement you may choose to seek.

If you believe that your firing is unjust, you must not do anything that may make the action appear just after the fact. Resit the urge to make a dramatic display as you leave, and don't trash the company or complain about your termination to your community, especially on social media. You must maintain the high ground as much as possible while you build your claim.

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Costello & Mains, LLC

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Mount Laurel, NJ 08054

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