Employment Law

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Here is a quick primer for your review.

The following situations are illegal for the workplace in the state of New Jersey, which means they can constitute grounds for a valid discrimination claim.

Age Discrimination

The law specifically prohibits stereotyping or unfair treatment of anyone because of age. These laws were put in place to protect older workers, yet age discrimination can occur against workers of any age. For example, with young workers, it could manifest as unequal pay for equal work when an employer attempts to pay you less for the same job because you’re young. Conversely, in the case of older workers, the issue
could be unfair hiring practices, promotions (or lack thereof) or termination because of your age. If you feel you have been discriminated against because of your age, you may have a case.
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Racial Discrimination

You cannot be discriminated against in the workplace because of your race. The law prohibits stereotyping or unfair treatment on this basis. It is unlawful to deny certain racial groups any rights or benefits or to give preferential treatment to anyone based on race.
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Gender Discrimination

Similarly, you cannot be stereotyped or unfairly treated due to your gender; that is illegal. In the past, women were more likely to be victims of gender discrimination due to inequality in the workplace and beyond. However, men can also face gender discrimination where they work, and are protected equally under the law.
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Disability Discrimination

Both the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the federal law prohibit discrimination against employees due to disabilities. This is in effect whether you are applying for a job, trying to get hired, have been fired, or refused advancement, equitable compensation or job training. Further, the law applies to other terms, conditions and privileges of employment.
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Religious Discrimination

Stereotyping or unfair treatment due to your religion is prohibited by the law. The freedom to practice your religion without being discriminated against is your right in the United States.
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Sexual Orientation Discrimination

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and federal law both prohibit stereotyping or unfair treatment in the workplace due to your sexual orientation.

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Sexual Discrimination

If you have been denied a job or promotion simply because you are a woman, you may have been the victim of sexual discrimination. Sexual discrimination occurs when an employer, supervisor, or colleague, treats someone in an unfair way because of their sex. This includes being denied the job or promotion you deserve.

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Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Quid pro quo is Latin for “this for that,” and quid pro quo harassment occurs when an employer or supervisor asks for sexual favors in exchange for something like a bonus or a promotion. It can also occur when an employer threatens negative consequences for refusing sexual advances. MORE INFO »

Sexual Harassment

Harassment is unlawful conduct by an employer, manager or even co-worker wherein the behavior is aimed at you due to a discriminatory or retaliatory or motive. The guideline is that it must be serious enough and/or repeated often enough to create a difficult or “hostile” work environment.

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Same-Sex Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace does not always look the way it does in the media. Regardless of your own sexuality, for example, it is possible to be a victim of sexual harassment by a same-sex harasser. If a co-worker or supervisor makes you feel uncomfortable at work because of your gender, that may constitute harassment, regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of that colleague.

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Retaliation for Reporting Sexual Harassment

Retaliating against someone who files a sexual harassment complaint is illegal, even if your employer finds the initial complaint to be without merit. Unfortunately, some workplaces or supervisors may even attempt to punish people who report sexual harassment.

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Sexual Harassment from Client

Colleagues are not the only people prohibited from harassing you in the workplace. You have the legal right to work in an environment free from harassment by anyone — including clients & customers.

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Unwelcome Touching

If your coworkers or supervisors have touched you inappropriately, you may be a victim of sexual harassment. Unwelcome touching can make a workplace uncomfortable, distracting and even frightening. Your colleagues do not have the right to touch you without your consent. Unwelcome touching can take many forms, including groping, kissing and hugging. All are wrong.

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Unwelcome Advances

Workplace flirting isn’t so innocent when it makes one party uncomfortable. Requests from colleagues for dates, physical contact or sexual favors can make you feel unsafe, distract you from your work or even make your work environment unbearable. You do not have to endure unwanted sexual advances in the workplace from coworkers or supervisors, and if you have been on the receiving end of such advances, you may be a victim of sexual harassment.

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Inappropriate Comments & Hostile Environment

Everyone wants a friendly workplace, but some work environments cross the line. Your coworkers do not have the right to make you feel uncomfortable because of your gender. If colleagues or supervisors have made inappropriate comments, including jokes, of a sexual nature, you may be the victim of sexual harassment.

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Explicit Material in the Workplace

Does one of your colleagues bring sexually explicit material to the workplace? Whether it’s explicit images, obscene writing or even handwritten drawings and notes, inappropriate content has no place in the office. If a coworker or supervisor’s explicit material is making you feel uncomfortable or distracted, you may be a victim of sexual harassment.

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Divorce Discrimination

No one has the right to make you feel unwelcome in the workplace simply because you’ve gone through a divorce. In New York and New Jersey, workers are protected from discrimination on the basis of their marital status. This includes divorce.

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Unequal Spousal Benefits

If your employer provides spousal benefits, such as health insurance, to the wives of your male coworkers, they must provide the same to you and your husband. Giving benefits to wives of male employees, but not to husbands of female employees, is illegal.

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Unequal Pay by Gender

It is illegal to pay a man more than a woman for the same job. Despite this, however, many employers continue to pay their male employees more than their female ones. This is a serious problem that can make it hard for women to succeed in the workplace. Worse, it means that female employees sometimes do not get the compensation they deserve.

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Dating Choice Discrimination

If you are dating a member of a protected group (including racial and religious minorities), you do not have to suffer discrimination or harassment at work because of that relationship.

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Gender Identity Discrimination

Your gender has nothing to do with your ability to be a productive employee. People of all gender identities deserve to be treated with respect and dignity in the workplace. Unfortunately, however, many backward-thinking employers do not provide their employees with the support and respect they deserve. If your employer has treated you differently or made you feel unwelcome at work because of your gender identity, you may be a victim of discrimination.

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Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA)

The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a federal labor law in place to provide eligible employees the ability to tend to their own medical needs or that of a family member with a serious health condition. The FMLA provides eligible employees with up to twelve (12) work weeks of unpaid leave in a twelve (12) month period for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child; care of a spouse, son, daughter or parent with a serious health condition; or their own serious health condition which causes an inability to work.
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Family Responsibilities

Unfortunately, however, some employers use a person’s family responsibilities against them. If you were recently denied a job or promotion because of your role as a care provider for others, an attorney may be able to help.
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Severance Package Review

There’s no easy way to lose your job. When the worst happens, it can help to have someone fighting to help you make the best of a difficult situation. An experienced Employment Lawyer can work with you to help you receive the possible severance package.
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Non-Compete Agreements

If you get trapped in a restrictive non-compete agreement, it may be difficult or even impossible for you to find work. This is unfair to employees who just want to work at a company that is the right fit for them. If your employer has asked you to sign a non-compete agreement, it is a good idea to learn more about your options.
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Wrongly Classified as Independent Contractor

Some employers unfairly classify their workers as independent contractors. As a result, they can avoid paying out required employee benefits like health insurance.
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Arrive Early or Stay Late Without Pay

Whether you’re a freelance contractor or a full-time employee, you deserve to receive the payment you’ve been promised.
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Paid Less than Minimum Wage

Labor and wage laws exist for a reason. When you put in a hard day’s work, you deserve to be paid fairly for that effort.
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Wrongful Termination

Wrongful termination refers to a situation where a person is fired for an illegal reason. Refusal to participate in an illegal or unethical scheme is no reason to fire someone. For example, you may have been wrongfully terminated if your firing violates a contract signed with your employer, if your employer is violating their own stated policy, or if you were the victim of harassment or discrimination.
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Wage Theft

Whether you’re a freelance contractor or a full-time employee, you deserve to receive the payment you’ve been promised. It seems simple: people should be paid for the work they do.
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Not Letting You Record Overtime

Prohibiting you from recording the overtime hours you work is a type of wage theft. You have the right to be paid for every moment your supervisor asks you to work.
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Not Getting Time and a Half for Overtime

Prohibiting you from recording the overtime hours you work is a type of wage theft. You have the right to be paid for every moment your supervisor asks you to work.
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Not Being Paid for Legally Required Breaks

Prohibiting you from recording the overtime hours you work is a type of wage theft. You have the right to be paid for every moment your supervisor asks you to work.
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Paid Daily Instead of Hourly

Paying employees “by the day” instead of by the hour can be a type of wage theft. You have the right to be paid for every moment your supervisor asks you to work. As an hourly employee, you deserve to be paid more for a nine-hour work day than for a seven-hour one.
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Work After Clocked Out

Making you work after clocking out is a major type of wage theft. Simply put, you are entitled to get paid for all the required work you do. If your employer asks you to clock out before work is done for the day, they may be stealing your hard-earned wages.
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#MeToo Attorney

If the Me Too movement has made you realize that you may be the victim of sexual harassment or assault, you should talk to an attorney to learn more about your options.
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Discrimination.
Harassment. Retaliation.

Generally there are three main areas for employment claims. These tend to be for a specific type of discrimination (of which there are many), harassment in the workplace or retaliation for something you said or did. These areas can also overlap, with one situation causing or impacting the other.

Tried and true experts in employment law - O'Connor, Parson, Lane & Noble

Tried-and-true experts in employment law.

Our attorneys are employment law specialists who have won cases that are among some of the state’s largest settlements. Our services include trial litigation, negotiation and arbitration, legal work on failure to accommodate people with disabilities, failure to accommodate people under the family and medical leave guidelines, violations of wages, breaches of contract and more. Whatever your occupation or profession, whether in the government sector or private industry, we are knowledgeable about the intricacies of employment law. We’ll guide you step-by-step through the legalities and to find out what recourse is available.

Determining whether you have a valid claim.

It can seem like there’s a lot of gray area in determining the grounds for a discrimination claim. But there are well defined laws enforced by the courts. Discrimination cases fall into subcategories on the basis of age, race, gender, disability, religion or sexual orientation as well as other protected circumstances such as pregnancy, marital status, nationality or national origin, domestic partnership status or military status.

If you are being treated unfairly due to one of these factors or “legally protected characteristics,” we can have an expert discuss your experience and help you decide whether you have a claim.

Determining whether you have a valid claim. - O'Connor, Parson, Lane & Noble

Protect yourself.

We encourage you to document any specific incidents that you believe demonstrate evidence of your claim. Also, make sure you submit to both management and human resources (if your firm has a department) your complaint. It is important to create a paper trail, so that you have documentation or proof of what has happened.

Remember that negligent companies and insurance entities have expert attorneys of their own, trained to derail your complaint. They may deny, lessen or delay legitimate claims in the interests of the employer, hoping that you have not sought out representation by an attorney who specializes in employment law.

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