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Toward the end of 2016, New Jersey's employment rate rose while its unemployment rate fell, signaling a growing job market. As more people enter the workforce, the legal and ethical issues in New Jersey workplaces that may have gone unaddressed in the past will become more apparent.
Issues like wage theft, employee misclassification and discrimination aren't problems workers should ignore or endure for the sake of keeping their jobs. They represent serious legal issues which New Jersey law protects workers against.
Employment law covers a multitude of topics, including worker's compensation, workplace discrimination, vacation and overtime, unemployment benefits and more. Your employment dispute is often affected by federal, state and local laws simultaneously. New Jersey employment law attorneys are experienced with the delicacy and complexity of work-related cases and can help protect your rights.
Wage and hour violations and employee misclassification are among the most common employment law issues in New Jersey. In both cases, a worker loses out on benefits or compensation they are entitled to under the Fair Labor Standards Act and New Jersey's Wage and Hour Laws.
Wage and hour violations include when an employer doesn't pay for overtime, reduces a worker's hours without due compensation or refuses to pay a tipped worker the state minimum wage for hours spent performing untipped tasks. These types of violations result in a distinct and unfair financial loss for the worker.
Employee misclassification cases typically result in tax problems and restricted access to benefits for workers. Employers may misclassify their employees as independent contractors to avoid taxpaying responsibilities or offering benefits like medical insurance and a 401k plan.
The New Jersey Supreme Court developed the ABC Test to determine a worker's relationship with an employer. An employer must defend a worker's independent contractor status by proving all three of these conditions:
If an employer fails to prove one or more of these conditions, they are liable for employee misclassification.
New Jersey's state minimum wage is $8.44/hour as of January 2017. In November 2013, New Jersey voters approved a referendum that will annually review and accordingly increase the state minimum wage.
The review occurs by or before September 30th. It bases a minimum wage increase on any reported increase of the consumer price index for "urban wage earners and clerical workers" in a one-year period starting and ending in August.
If you catch your employer conducting an illegal business practice like waste dumping or money laundering, it's natural to worry about how they might react if you reported them to the authorities. New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Protection Act protects whistleblowers from employer retaliation for reporting or refusing to participate in illegal activities.
Under the act, no employee may be terminated, demoted, harassed or otherwise punished in retaliation for whistleblowing. If an employer retaliates, they may be liable for damages and compensation for any lost wages.
If you or a loved one is involved in an employment law dispute, it's in your best interests to consult with an attorney. Employment law is a broad, complicated legal area with federal and state laws at play. An experienced New Jersey employment law attorney can help protect your legal rights.
Have you been discriminated against by a potential or current employer -- as a job applicant or current employee? To best protect your legal rights you should discuss your situation with an employment lawyer. Meet with a local employment for employees attorney sooner rather than later to protect your rights.