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Employee Rights Archives

When does the new overtime rule take effect?

This year, Congress passed a new overtime rule that would increase the salary limit of workers who would be eligible for and guaranteed to be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. The new rule, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is ready to go into effect Dec. 1 this year. However, the U.S. House of Representatives in late September passed a bill that aims to delay that start for six months. It doesn't seem the rule will actually be delayed, though, as President Barack Obama has released a statement saying he would veto the bill that aims to delay the start of the overtime rule.

Exercising right to safety is protected by whistleblower laws

As an employee of a business, you have various rights. We often discuss employment laws related to discrimination, harassment, wages and overtime pay. But you also have a right to a safe workplace and healthy work environment

When Employers Retaliate

Retaliation is among the most common forms of employer misconduct. An employee reports sexual harassment, or fraud or racial discrimination and finds herself or himself fired or facing other negative consequences at work. An employee chooses to exercise the right to family medical leave and finds the position terminated in the interim. A worker files a claim for a workplace injury and is let go for missing work. Employers can fire workers for a wide variety of reasons, but they cannot retaliate against workers who choose to exercise their rights. An employee who has been the victim of retaliation should consider filing a lawsuit.

Employee Rights Violated By Social Media Policy

Many employers believe they have unfettered rights to control their employees when it comes to social media. A Twitter or Facebook post that criticizes an employer can draw swift retribution. While employees are not able to say anything they like without consequences, there are protected topics. A social media policy that does not account for activities protected by federal law is not enforceable. An administrative judge recently ruled that the social media policy used by Chipotle was not allowed under federal law. The ruling followed several memoranda released by the National Labor Relations Board instructing employers how to avoid running afoul of the law in promoting a social media policy.

Harassment, Racism And Wage Violations At Restaurants

Minimum wage laws have mandated a certain level of remuneration for decades. Unfortunately, from the earliest incarnations of those laws, workers were entitled to a minimum gained through wages or through tips. The result is that in tipped occupations, employers are allowed to pay less, often substantially less, than in other fields. Restaurant workers in tipped positions feel the brunt of this in several ways. Some people believe that it is past time to end the tipping exception and maintain one minimum wage for all employees. Several states have already enacted laws to do this.

Employees, Not Independent Contractors

Among the many methods used by businesses to cheat workers is that of misclassification. By calling a worker an independent contractor, rather than an employee, companies can avoid a host of legal responsibilities, including the need to provide a safe workplace, pay proper wages and cover things like unemployment and worker's compensation. Misclassifying workers has grown alongside the practice of legitimately using contractors to provide labor. It is a sign that many employers are happy to cut costs at the expense of the communities they serve, even if doing so endangers workers and violates the law.

Respecting Religion In The Workplace

The New Jersey State Law Against Discrimination requires employers to provide reasonable religious accommodation to workers. The U.S. Constitution and the New Jersey State Constitution both guarantee people the right to observe the religion of their choice. In the employment setting, religious accommodation is an acknowledgement that employees come from different faiths and should not be restricted from practicing their religion without good reason. Any sincerely held religious belief is entitled to, at the very least, a discussion of ways your employer can accommodate.

Retaliation Guidelines Under Review

According to Equal Employment Opportunity laws, retaliation is "when an employer unlawfully takes action against an individual in punishment for exercising rights protected by any of the EEO laws." The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does not handle all types of retaliation, but a significant percentage of the claims it handles are based on these allegations. EEOC data shows that 43 percent of the bias charges it handled for private sector employers were based on accusations of retaliation.

Gender Discrimination And Appearance Policies

Can you be fired for gaining a few pounds? According to the New Jersey Supreme Court, apparently the answer is yes. The issue arose based on the practice of an Atlantic City casino of firing cocktail waitresses if they gained more than 7 percent of their body weight. A group of "Borgata Babes" eventually tired of being embarrassed and harassed as part of regular weigh-ins and filed turned to the law to put a stop to the discrimination. Unfortunately, the practice was condoned by the court system based on the notion that the casino applies the rule to both male and female employees. That ignores the fact that there is no evidence that the men who work as bartenders are weighed as frequently, or even at all.

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