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New Jersey Employment Law Blog

A law clerk sues a Burlington County Superior Court judge

A 31-year-old female law clerk to a male Ocean County Family Division judge filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her former boss earlier this month.

In her filing, the law clerk detailed how she and her predecessors were subjected to repeated humiliation, belittling and yelling at the hands of their boss. She also described how the judge routinely spoke about having the ability to ruin individuals' careers.

Situations where requiring English is not discrimination

Employers all throughout New Jersey know and understand that they cannot discriminate against their employees for various reasons. One of those reasons is language. Employers cannot discriminate against employees because they have an accent or because they speak a language other than English. But, there are situations where employers can require their employees to speak English on the job and it is not considered discrimination.

It can be acceptable to require employees to speak English in the event of an emergency. Requiring employees to speak the same language when an emergency occurs in the workplace can help save time and lives, especially if the premises must be evacuated.

New Jersey marijuana bill addresses employees' rights

It appears that New Jersey will soon be among the states where marijuana is legal for recreational use. Democratic leaders in the New Jersey Senate and Gov. Phil Murphy reached an agreement on a revised draft of the bill this week. It's scheduled to be voted on in committee next week and to be considered by both houses on March 25.

The proposed law addresses how marijuana will be taxed, who can sell it and how it can be delivered. One element of the bill that some employers aren't happy about involves actions they can take involving employees or applicants who use marijuana.

Rights for seasonal workers in New Jersey

There are two spikes in employment every year in the state of New Jersey: the holiday season and the summer season. During the holidays, retailers across the state hire part-time, or seasonal, workers to help with the rush of holiday shoppers. During the summer, retailers, restaurants and municipalities hire seasonal workers to help with the influx of vacationers along the Jersey Shore. This includes lifeguards at pools, along the bay and on the beaches.

Seasonal employment is defined by law in New Jersey as a job that lasts for no more than 36 weeks. The contract for a seasonal employee might also state that you will not be paid additional money if you happen to work additional hours. This means that you will not be paid overtime wages, just the regular rate, if you work more hours in a week than what was agreed upon when hired.

How to reject a co-worker who asks for a date

Many people meet their significant other at their place of employment, but that doesn't necessarily mean you want to date everyone (or anyone) you work with. Unfortunately, there could come a time when you're put in the difficult spot of rejecting a co-worker who asks for a date.

If you find yourself in this position, here are a few steps you can take:

  • First, say thanks: By doing this, you prevent the person from feeling rejected and/or angry. From there, you can explain why you're unable to join them, such as because you're in another relationship.
  • Make yourself clear: One of the biggest mistakes you can make is stringing the person along. You don't want to give them false hope, such as by saying "maybe we can talk about it next week." Instead, be clear that you don't want to go on a date, all while remaining courteous and respectful.
  • Talk about your career concerns: If you're concerned that dating a co-worker will affect your career, don't hesitate to share your feelings on this. For example, many companies have rules in place to prevent supervisors from dating subordinates.

Those who face racial discrimination blame individual prejudice

When people face racial discrimination, where do they place the blame? Do they think that laws and policies are behind it? Do they blame individuals for harboring their own prejudices?

Those are questions that were posed by a recent study. It started off by asking African-American individuals if they felt like they were ever discriminated against in modern America. If they said that they did feel that way, they were then asked where they placed the blame.

Looking at New Jersey's new minimum wage laws

Workers and employers are rarely aligned when it comes to wages. Minimum wage laws are one of the tools used by workers' rights advocates to protect vulnerable citizens from exploitation. The laws don't always keep up with the reality of day-to-day life, however. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently signed legislation to help move the minimum wage back to the levels it was intended, when it comes to buying power. At the moment, the minimum wage is $8.85 per hour.

What will the new minimum wage look like?

Responding to offensive comments in the workplace

When you go to work each day, you don't expect to walk into a hostile environment. There are many ways a place of employment can become hostile, and one such way is when supervisors and co-workers begin making offensive comments. This might be done in passing, in jest, on purpose or even just as a mistake. No matter the reason, you deserve better. Here's how to respond to an offensive comment at your place of employment.

If you decide to respond to an offensive comment at work, make sure you don't assume that the person who made the comment was trying to offend you in the first place. In a lot of cases, the person who made the comment doesn't have a clue that it could ever offend someone. A great way to respond to an offensive comment is to share an experience where you made a mistake and said something inappropriate and explain how you handled the situation.

New Jersey lawmakers pass 2 bills to protect fair wages

New Jersey lawmakers passed a package of bills on Feb. 14 aimed at making sure the state's middle- and working- class residents' rights to fair wages are protected.

Among the bills that were approved by the Assembly Labor Committee that day was A-1094. It aims to minimize wage gaps between the genders by making it illegal for any employer to require an applicant to disclose their wage history simply to apply for a job. It would make it illegal for them to ask a prospective worker to disclose their minimum salary in order to be considered for a role as well.

Company offers student loan payments for unused vacation days

Many workers never take full advantage of their vacation days, and companies are starting to get creative with how they capitalize on that.

The insurance company Unum now offers employees a choice: trade in those unused vacation days for student loan payments. But does this idea have a downside?

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