New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD)
New Jersey Labor Law
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or potential employees in any job-related action on the basis of specified protected categories. The protected categories include race, creed, national origin, nationality, color, marital status, sexual orientation and mental or physical disability. In all areas of job-related action, including recruitment, hiring, promotions and discharge, the LAD protects employees from discriminatory actions. Furthermore, the LAD protects employees from sexual harassment, including unwelcome sexual advances, or other conduct of a sexual nature, and prohibits employers from denying employment opportunities to people with disabilities unless it is reasonable that the disability precludes the safe performance of a job.
New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act ("Whistleblower Act")
The New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act is essentially a whistleblower act that encourages employees to report illegal and/or unethical workplace activities. The Act prohibits an employer from taking any retaliatory action against an employee—including many workers who consider themselves independent contractors—in any of the following situations:
- Where the employee discloses or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or to a public body an activity, policy or practice of the employer that the employee reasonably believes is illegal, fraudulent or criminal;
- Where the employee provides information to or testifies before any public body investigating an employer's act, policy or practice that the employee reasonably believes is illegal, fraudulent or criminal; and
- Where the employee objects to or refuses to participate in any activity, policy or practice that the employee reasonably believes is illegal, fraudulent or criminal, or is incompatible with a clear mandate of public policy concerning the public health, safety or welfare, or protection of the environment.
It is important to note that the employee does not have to be correct in his belief that the employer has conducted illegal or unethical acts. Rather, the employee needs only to have an objectively reasonable belief that the employer's act is illegal, fraudulent or criminal.
Employees who win a Conscientious Employee Protection Act lawsuit can recover economic damages, including past and future lost wages, attorney's fees, costs of the litigation and, in some cases, punitive damages.
New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits Law
As of July 1, 2009, the Family Leave Insurance provision of the New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits Law provides up to six weeks of family leave insurance benefits payable to covered employees to care for a family member with a serious health condition. This condition must be supported by certification from a health care provider. The six weeks can be consecutive, intermittent weekly or for 42 intermittent days for a 12-month period.
At Will Employment
New Jersey is an "at will" employment state. As such, at-will employees can be terminated for any reason, except reasons that are deemed to be illegal, such as on the basis of race, nationality or sexual orientation, or because the employee refuses to break a law. Employees who are covered by an employment contract can usually only be terminated for the reasons set out in the contract, unless the employer shows proof that the employee is an at-will employee.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
The Fair Labor Standards Act is a federal law regarding employee wages and hours worked, including overtime hours and wages. Under the FLSA, some workers can be exempted from overtime pay. However, those workers must fit the criteria the FLSA sets out for exemption. New Jersey's laws also apply to employment subject to the FLSA. In cases where both the FLSA and state law apply, the law setting the higher standards must be observed.
More information on how the Fair Labor Standards Act applies to overtime can be found here.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal act that requires that covered employers provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees for the following reasons: birth and care of the employee's newborn child; care for a child after adoption or foster care placement; care for the employee's spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition; or for a serious health condition that affects the employee's ability to work.
New Jersey employees are eligible for FMLA coverage if they have worked for a covered employer for at least one year, for 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months (not necessarily consecutive months) and if a minimum of 50 employees are employed by the same employer within 75 miles.
Covered employers are those who employ more than 50 employees within 75 miles of the worksite and have at least 50 employees who work 20 or more work-weeks in the current calendar year or the previous calendar year. Public agencies are covered by the FMLA regardless of the number of employees.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
The Occupational Safety and Health Act is a federal law enacted to ensure that employees work in an environment that is free from recognized hazards. It is part of the United States Code, Title 29, Chapter 15.
Employees who feel their rights have been violated may have the opportunity to bring their complaint before the courts.
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Last updated on Mar-18-15