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New Jersey Employment Law Blog

What questions may an employer ask during an interview?

Job hunting can feel like a brutal process these days, especially in highly competitive or over-saturated fields. In many cases, prospective employees' desire to secure a coveted job overrides their concerns of unfair treatment in the hiring process, especially regarding violations of employees' rights. Even if a company did not hire an applicant, it may still violate that person's rights in the interview process — and this may justify legal action.

Often, an employer crosses a boundary in the questions the interviewer asks prospective employees. If an employer asks a question that an applicant believes is inappropriate, it is possible that the interviewer is gauging the applicant's reaction to the question and may indicate deeper systemic issues within the company or organization.

Enforcing your pension plan is possible

If your employer offers you a pension plan, or some other benefit, it is reasonable to factor this in to your financial plans, especially when it comes to your estate planning and ongoing care both now and later in life. Unfortunately, when times get tough in the economy, either for an individual employer or for the economy in general, pensions and other benefits often receive unfair treatment that may affect your retirement. Still, you may have some tools you can use to protect yourself.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or the ERISA, regulates practices around voluntary benefits offered by employers. Whether it is a pension, a scholarship, health insurance or some other benefit, if an employer chooses to make it available to its employees, the ERISA helps ensure that the employer does not remove the benefit unfairly or operates the benefit in a way that harms the employee.

Far From Even - Age Discrimination At Volkswagen

It is often difficult to catch a business in the act of discrimination. In some cases, companies are foolish enough to publicize illegal practices. Most of the time, however, one must gather small pieces of evidence that, when taken together, demonstrate a violation of workers' rights.

Age discrimination may be even harder to pin down than other forms. The reason for this is that age discrimination is often couched in seemingly reasonable financial terms. It is not animus that drives many of these cases. It is simply an effort to push out older, more experienced workers to replace them with cheaper, younger workers.

Filing a claim for unpaid wages

If you suspect that your employer does not pay you properly, or has withheld payment for a certain task or shift, you may have grounds to file a claim for unpaid wages. This is not always a simple or quick process, but the law does provide a path for employees to petition the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) for help securing fair back pay. This may arise because an employer refuses to pay you overtime, pays you for fewer hours than you worked, or pays you less than you deserve in some other way.

Once the WHD reviews you complaint, it may assist in a number of ways. The WHD may conduct its own investigation, which is often enough to compel your employer to pay you properly in and of itself. Few businesses are interested in dealing with the additional scrutiny that review from the WHD brings, and may offer you fair compensation to avoid more trouble in the future.

Were you fired for taking protected time off work?

While some employers offer generous benefits packages that include personal allowances to take time off for many reasons, nearly all employees may take time off for certain protected reasons, according to federal law. If an employee requests unpaid time off for one of these protected reasons, the employer must allow it in most instances, and may not retaliate against an employee who enforces his or her rights.

Unfortunately, some employers are either ignorant of the law or unconcerned with following it, and may punish an employee anyway, sometimes even terminating an employee who takes protected time off. Federal law (as well as some state-specific laws) guarantees that most employees may ask for time off to care for a family member in need or to recover from a serious illness. These laws also protect the employment of military service members who must leave to on a call of duty, as well as guarantee that an employee may take time off to vote or serve on a jury.

Is my employer’s confidentiality agreement legally enforceable?

Many employment agreements feature confidentiality agreements an employee must agree to as a part of accepting the job. Like the rest of the contract, confidentiality agreements can provide protection to both the employer and the employee, but primarily serve the interests of the employer.

If your employer or a former employer claims that you violated a confidentiality agreement, you should take this accusation very seriously. If they pursue the matter in court, failing to properly defend yourself may result in serious fines and other legal consequences. However, it is important to understand that not all confidentiality agreements hold up in court, and it is reasonably likely that your own agreement has weaknesses you can exploit.

Journey To Justice, June, 2018: New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Lawyer Discusses Deadly Force by Police

Sadly and unfortunately, we're seeing more news coverage than ever before about police-involved shootings. That doesn't mean, of course, that police excess is a new phenomenon. America has experienced police excess - usually disproportionately directed at the poor, ethnic, and disenfranchised - for the entire history of police. What's new is the ability of the media to cover expose it and spread that information to the widest, most accessible audiences in history. More, with the advent of bodycams, cell phones and wide spread security cameras, the public has a better picture than ever of the raw data concerning these events.

Do independent contractors have worker’s rights?

Over the last several years, the employment landscape has shifted drastically, with many people opting to work as independent contractors. Depending on the circumstances, this can be a useful option that provides sufficient income while offering flexibility that traditional employment does not. But gig work also has some fairly serious drawbacks, at least under current laws.

Working as an independent contractor removes many of the obligations an employer has to you as a worker because you usually do not qualify for many employee benefits. In many cases, working as an independent contractor allows your employer to exempt you from typical workers' compensation coverage, for instance.

Harassment knows no bounds

When you think of a typical sexual harassment scenario, the victim is probably female and in a position of less authority than the perpetrator. You may picture a waitress being harassed by a restaurant owner. You may picture a CEO propositioning an assistant. In reality, sexual harassment is pervasive in every industry and in a remarkably wide range of situations.

Prestige is no defense

Teachers’ union secures raises after wage dispute

Wage disputes can sometimes get so bogged down in the details that it is difficult to see the big picture. This is common when it comes to fields like primary education, where teachers often face social expectations of receiving unfairly low pay for very demanding work. Many administrators and even teachers themselves seem to think that it is acceptable to pay teacher wages that are far from competitive, seeing the job as more of a service position than it truly is.

In a stroke of good news for New Jersey teachers, the teachers' union in the Patterson district successfully negotiated a 3 percent raise, which the union maintains that the teachers deserve from cost of living increases alone. In addition, while the costs of living continues to increase, teachers complained in recent meetings that their pay was actually decreasing because the increased costs of medical care deducted from their paychecks.

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