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New Jersey Employment Law Blog

Is your employer allowed to restrict you from tips earned?

You work in an environment where you're expected to receive tips. You've always made good money, but something that has frustrated you is how other workers sometimes slack off but still get a share in your tips.

You spoke with your employer about it, and they decided to give you a promotion. As a result of the dollar-an-hour raise they gave you, they let you know that you won't be in the tip pool anymore. Is that fair? You're still doing a job where you're tipped, but now you can't keep it.

What is CEPA and how can you use it?

If you are an employee at a New Jersey company and you are witness to certain legal violations or have knowledge of ways your company is illegally skirting the law, you may be able to seek protection under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA).

Similar to the federal Whistleblower Law, CEPA provides protections to the employee(s) from any retaliation by the company that employs them if the employee does certain things.

Fired casino executive claims discrimination, retaliation

A former Atlantic City casino executive who had been in the gaming industry for over three decades filed a wrongful termination lawsuit this month against the Ocean Casino Resort, Luxor Capital Group and two individuals reportedly involved in her termination. She alleges that she was fired in January after she raised objections more than once about discrepancies that were allowed to stand in the minutes of an audit committee meeting held last year. The plaintiff had been a senior vice president and general counsel for the resort.

The minutes of the meeting were relayed to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), which regulates the state's casinos. The discrepancies in the meeting that the plaintiff reported involved a new director of surveillance at the casino.

How are tipped employees paid when they do untipped work?

Many employees work in restaurants, hair salons and other types of businesses where they typically are tipped by customers. If that describes your job, you probably also spend some of your time at work assigned to tasks where you're not dealing directly with customers and therefore not getting tips. How does that impact the minimum wage that your employer is required to pay you?

Before we answer that, we need to look at something called a "tip credit." That's the maximum amount an employer can deduct from an employee's minimum hourly wage as long as the wage they pay plus the amount of their tips equals at least the state's minimum wage. If an employees' tips don't reach the tip credit amount, employers are required to pay them the difference to ensure they're making New Jersey's minimum wage.

Workers' Comp Benefits Expanded For Essential Employees Diagnosed With COVID-19

In July of 2019, Governor Murphy signed into law the "Thomas P. Canzanella Twenty First Century First Responders Protection Act," which expanded workers' compensation benefits to "public safety workers" who become ill as a result of exposure to diseases or toxins by creating a presumption that the illness is work-related. Since then, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis revealed some of the fault lines in our economy and healthcare system. Governor Murphy and New Jersey's legislature responded by enacting A-3999/S-2380 (https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2020/Bills/S2500/2380_R1.PDF). Governor Murphy signed the bill into law on September 14, 2020.

Are you a waitress being sexually harassed by your customers?

Waiters and waitresses work hard. Here in New Jersey, the tipped wage for servers is only $3.13 an hour, with the wait staff's tips supposed to make up the rest of the gap toward the $11 minimum wage.

That disparity can make servers feel like they have to allow entitled customers to take personal liberties with them that they would not otherwise permit. After all, the servers may reason, it's not as if it's their manager trying to back them into the stockroom to grab their buttocks or breasts.

Are you the victim of a workplace bully?

You thought you were finished with bullying long ago, but it seems like you're going through it all over again – this time by grown adults in the workplace. If you are, you're not alone. People are bullied by coworkers and even bosses all the time.

Sometimes it's done as a form of retribution. Maybe you were assigned a high-profile project that someone else wanted. Perhaps your boss wanted to hire someone else for your job but was overridden. Maybe a coworker or boss has an issue with people of your race, sexual orientation or religion.

State's high court rules Pfizer can't be sued by former employee

A recent New Jersey Supreme Court ruling was called "a dark day for employees" by the plaintiff's attorney. The August ruling addressed the flight attendant's ability to sue her former employer, Pfizer, for religious discrimination rather than the grounds for the suit.

The plaintiff, who worked at the West Trenton aviation facility owned by Pfizer, claims that the pharmaceutical giant fired her three years ago because she refused to get a required yellow fever vaccine. Because it contained ingredients derived from animals, she said her religious beliefs as a Buddhist wouldn't allow her to get the vaccination.

What wage and hour theft protections does New Jersey offer?

States across the country have enacted laws in recent years that carry serious penalties for employers who violate wage and hour laws and shortchange employees for their time and work. The New Jersey Wage Theft Law, which is just over a year old, is one of the strongest such laws in the U.S.

Among the provisions of the law that helps employees is the six-year statute of limitations for bringing a wage and hour lawsuit. Further, the amount of money that can be sought in these lawsuits is considerable.

COVID-19 as a Work-Related Illness: Are You Eligible?

COVID-19 has pushed the American healthcare system to its limits. Fortunately, the New Jersey workers' compensation system offers benefits to some workers who likely contracted the virus as part of their employment.

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