Employment Law In New Jersey
Employment law consists of any law involving the workplace. Typically, these laws involve the prevention of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, denial of overtime and fair wages, and sexual harassment. They are two different types of employment laws both federal and state. Although, both cover similar areas, they are very different.
In New Jersey, the main employment law statutes are the Law Against Discrimination, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act and the New Jersey Wage and Hour Regulations. These laws were all put into place to prevent harassment, discrimination, retaliation and to make sure that employees receive their fair wages.
New Jersey State Employment Laws
New Jersey Law Against Discrimination
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”) makes it illegal to treat people differently based on a protected characteristic. A characteristic is considered protected if the legislature includes it in the statute. If it is not protected, then it is not illegal to treat people differently based on that characteristic. The NJLAD currently protects discrimination that is based on color, race, national origin, creed, age, sex, gender, disability, nationality, pregnancy, ancestry, sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation, military status, AIDS or HIV status, genetic information and others. An employer is prohibited by law from intentionally discriminating against an employee based on any of these protected characteristics. An employer cannot deny someone employment, change their employment status or create a policy that disproportionately affects members of a protected class. The NJLAD also protects employees from sexual harassment as it is considered differential treatment based on an employee’s gender.
Conscientious Employee Protection Act
The Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”), New Jersey’s anti-retaliation/whistleblower law, has been considered one of the strongest anti-retaliation laws throughout the entire country. It is illegal for any employer to retaliate against an employee based on the employee either: (1) disclosing or threatening to disclose a practice of the employer that the employee reasonably believes is a violation of a statute, law, regulation or code of conduct or, if a health care employee, conduct that is considered to be improper patient care ; (2) testifies about the company in any hearing, trial, litigation or other venue regarding any violation or law; (3) objects or refuses the order from the employer that the employee reasonably believes is a violation of law, criminal, fraudulent or violates public policy. If a violation is made to a public body, the employee must also bring it to the attention of the employer in written form so that the employer can correct the activity.
New Jersey Wage and Hour Laws
New Jersey has created numerous regulations to make sure that employers provide a minimum wage, pay overtime, properly classify employees and contractors, implement time keeping systems, keep records of pay/gratuities.
Federal Employment Laws
We typically prefer to pursue cases based on the New Jersey State Laws. There are a number of Federal Laws that overlap with New Jersey’s laws. This is a quick list of some of the federal employment laws that have been relevant in our practice: (1) Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); (2) Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA); (3) Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA); (4) Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA); and (5) Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN).
Evidence in an Employment Law Case
Direct and Circumstantial evidence.
Direct evidence is an actual document, recorded statement or any other piece of evidence that demonstrates that the employer specifically violated the law. Circumstantial evidence, the more common type of evidence, is utilized by demonstrating that other people were treated better than employees who do not belong to you or by pointing to other things done by the employer that would suggest a violation of law. For example, men were provided with better assignments; whereas women were denied certain assignments. This would be circumstantial evidence for gender discrimination. It is not your responsibility as a potential plaintiff to come up with all these evidence. You are not required to make recordings or video of the harassment or discrimination. The most important thing to do is to contact an attorney and discuss your potential claim so that they can evaluate it and let you know what it will take in order to prepare your case and succeed with the best results.
Statute of Limitations in Employment Law Cases
You should keep in mind that all of these various laws require that you make a timely filing. This means that you have to stay within the statute limitations period in order to have a claim. For example, claims made under the NJLAD would require that you file within two years of the qualifying event. CEPA would require that you will file within one year of the adverse employment action. The federal laws will differ greatly and also have different statute limitations. Therefore, we recommend that you contact an attorney to discuss your potential issues before waiting on your rights. Waiting to enforce your claim may only prevent you from bringing the client in the future.