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New Jersey Employment Law Blog

New law protects mothers' rights in the workplace

The push to increase protections for women in the workplace scored a significant win at the turn of the new year here in New Jersey, as exiting governor Chris Christie approved a law mandating that women who choose to breastfeed while at work receive proper protection from discrimination.

This move is an important step for many working mothers who wish to remain in the workplace instead of leaving to raise a child. For many years, mothers in the workplace often felt they faced a choice between their careers and their children, leading many women to pursue less fulfilling jobs that are easier to leave and rejoin after some time away with an infant or child.

An Understanding Of Sexual Harassment Is Important

There are too many problems in the world to be passionate about them all. It is only natural that some societal problems will simply escape public notice until an event draws our attention. Anyone working in employment law is well aware of gender-based inequality. The recent attention given to high-profile cases of sexual harassment, sexual assault and other misconduct by men in politics, entertainment and business may, hopefully, bring about change.

Sexual harassment is a societal, not individual problem

New Jersey's minimum wage raise took effect Jan. 1

Among the new laws that took effect in New Jersey on Jan. 1, 2018, is a welcome increase in the state's minimum wage. Those who currently serve in minimum wage positions should expect to see the increase on payroll for hours worked after Jan. 1, but some employers may need some assistance implementing the increase effectively and in a timely manner.

The increase raises the minimum wage in New Jersey to $8.25, up from $7.25 previously. The increase itself was approved as a part of a state Constitutional amendment that voters approved back in 2013, and is set to fluctuate in accordance with inflation. While costs of living continue to climb higher each and every day, the average wages in the state only rose $.06 in 2017, well below the rising costs of many common living expenses.

Now is the time to stand up to injustice in the workplace

2017 may well go down in history books as, among other things, the year that many individuals who suffered unfair treatment in the workplace spoke up and made their voices heard. People from many walks of life found the courage to come forward publicly about numerous instances of workplace abuses of power and privilege that may have gone unchallenged otherwise.

While much of the focus in the public eye lay on women coming forward to accuse male co-workers or superiors of sexual misconduct in the workplace, many throughout the country understand that the groundswell of support for fair workplace practices extends to all individuals who suffer unfair treatment and discrimination. This includes those who continue to suffer from racial discrimination in the workplace.

How to respond to a violation of your rights in the workplace

When you believe that your employer violates your rights, you have a responsibility to carefully consider your response. Not only do you want to make sure that you keep your rights and privileges protected from potential retaliatory behavior by your employer, you also should consider how your response may affect others in your workplace. Creating workplaces that respect the rights of workers can only happen if those who experience injustice stand up against it.

Before you choose a response to a potential violation of your rights, make sure that you understand exactly what your rights are in your specific workplace. While most employee rights apply to most employees, there are a numerous exceptions. In some cases, you may find that you have fewer protections under the law than you anticipated, altering how you must pursue a just resolution.

Proving retaliatory firing may mean getting creative

Many employees suspect that a former employer terminated them unfairly, but not all believe that they have sufficient grounds to pursue legal action against the employer for wrongful termination or retaliation. In order to prove that a particular firing was retaliatory, a former employee must first meet three standards.

First, the employee must have evidence to prove that he or she was taking part in protected activities, such as reporting discrimination or cooperating with an investigation into inappropriate conduct in the workplace. Once the individual demonstrates that he or she was participating in some protected activity, he or she must demonstrate that the employer punished him or her for this behavior. While this punishment may include the firing, it does not always. Instead, the punishment may be demotion, loss of preference in work assignments or docked pay.

Are Human Resources Departments Useless, Or Actively Harmful?

Many people who find themselves the victim of sexual harassment or workplace discrimination are reluctant to report it to human resources. HR departments are, ostensibly, the right place to direct complaints about mistreatment. In reality, many of these departments work to protect executives from the consequences of their actions. Reporting a complaint to HR often leads nowhere. If action is taken, it's as likely to lead to retaliation against the victim as it is action against the perpetrator.

Understand HR priorities

State senate considers bill protecting employees' rights

After a year that brought with it so many setbacks for working people across the country, a bright spot of good news emerged recently in the New Jersey State Senate. The senate recently introduced a bill protecting employees' rights to sue employers and third parties on grounds of discrimination.

The bill, which seeks to strengthen the protections that employees enjoy under New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) could heavily impact legal actions against employers or third parties that commit discriminatory acts in the workplace.

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.

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