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New Jersey Employment Law Blog

Why do employees ignore discrimination?

You see a clear case of workplace discrimination. Maybe your boss laughs about firing someone who was of a different ethnicity. Maybe you see a supervisor throw away all employment applications from women.

Maybe someone makes disparaging remarks that everyone can hear, and everyone just awkwardly looks back at their computers and tries to act like it didn't happen. Why do people ignore things like this when they know that they're both unethical and illegal?

Female employees in New Jersey continue to face sexual harassment

Despite the growing efforts of many companies to tighten their sexual harassment policies, many female employees in New Jersey continue to encounter inappropriate behavior at work. According to NJ Advance Media, a survey was recently conducted to find out whether #MeToo had made any impact in workplaces around the state. The results revealed that most of the survey participants, made up of both men and women, had not noticed any significant changes in their own workplaces.

New Jersey labor laws protect your right to pay and sick leave

New Jersey state labor laws require employers to uphold certain hiring, firing and compensation standards when dealing with their employees. They also state that workers be paid a set minimum wage and overtime and restrict employers from hiring children to work in certain industries and certain schedules. These laws also specify whether wages can be withheld, how sick leave is accrued and how other benefits should be handled.

These labor laws specify that all workers should be paid at the very least the state minimum wage for every hour worked. They also require all employees to be paid one and one-half times for every hour they're asked to work in excess of 40 hours. There are some workers that don't have to be compensated in accordance with these rules.

What is meant by at-will employment?

You get hired on as an at-will employee. Your employer explains that it's very common and that all of the other employees have the same classification, but you still want to know what it means for you.

Essentially, "at-will employment" means both you and your employer have a lot of freedom regarding the nature of your business relationship. If you want to quit, you can do it whenever you want. You don't have to provide a reason. If you do, it can be almost anything at all -- it may be as simple as not enjoying the job anymore.

New Jersey Transit paid millions in discrimination lawsuits

No matter what sector an employee works in, the law provides broad protections against discrimination, even if the discrimination occurs in public offices. In the last several years, the topic of discrimination and harassment in the workplace has dominated headlines and the broader public conversation, which makes it all the more surprising when any organization faces discrimination suits repeatedly.

Our very own New Jersey Transit has faced numerous discrimination lawsuits over the last several years, totaling over $12 million in damages paid to plaintiffs. Even more shocking, the organization as a whole faced over 50 discrimination lawsuits over a period of about six years. In most instances, a company or organization may face only a few lawsuits based on discrimination before cracking down on its policies and practices, so it is particularly concerning that Transit continued to face allegations, and continued to pay out settlements.

Dating in the workplace: Your rights as an employee

It's natural to meet people who share the same interests as you at your place of employment. However, if you're interested in entering a romantic relationship with someone at work, you need to understand what you can and can't do.

The primary issue with employee dating is the fear of sexual harassment. For example, if a supervisor is dating a subordinate, this could come into play if the relationship ends on a sour note.

It is illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation

There is sometimes a bit of confusion when it comes to discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, it is important for employers and employees to understand that this type of discrimination is completely illegal.

Discrimination was outlawed by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It specifically mentions race, religion, color, national origin and sex. It does not specifically identify the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, which is why the confusion occurs. The law appears not to offer proper protection.

Examples of wrongful termination, things to look for

You can lose your job for a variety of reasons, some legal and some illegal. If you've been terminated, it's important to understand why and to focus your time on protecting your legal rights.

There are many forms of wrongful termination. If your employment was terminated in a manner that violates local, state or federal law, you'll want to take action.

Religious discrimination: 6 prohibited actions

The United States was founded on the idea of freedom of religion, and that must be reflected in the workplace. Employees all have a right to practice any religion that they so choose and employers cannot discriminate against them based on these decisions.

But what does that discrimination look like? Below are six examples of prohibited actions to watch out for. An employer cannot:

  1. Refuse to hire someone based on their religion.
  2. Refuse to give that person promotions when they are otherwise deserved.
  3. Make employees of a specific religion follow work requirements that are different from employees of another religion.
  4. Make it harder for employees of that religion to flourish in the workplace by getting raises, promotions and the like.
  5. Refuse to consider a prospective employee based on their religion or, if that religion isn't known, based on their name. Some names are strongly linked to specific religions and they should not influence employers in any way.
  6. Refuse to make reasonable accommodations for employees so that they can observe their religion in the workplace. The only exception to this is when those accommodations would, for one reason or another, create an undue hardship for the company or the employer.

5 ways that whistleblowers are protected from retaliation in NJ

Dating back as far as the middle ages, there have been protections in place for anyone willing to come forward with evidence of fraud or corruption. People who are brave enough to come forward are often referred to as whistleblowers. Whistleblowers got their name because they alert authorities to corruption that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. Without whistleblowers, society could not function as efficiently as it does now.

In New Jersey we have a law called the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). The role of CEPA is to encourage any employee of the state to come forward if they have information regarding corrupt activity. Any employee who comes forward receives protection from retaliation at the hands of their employer.

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