New Jersey Employment Lawyer Advocating for Your Workplace Rights
Residents of New Jersey have a right to be free from harassment or discrimination in the workplace, and employers can be held liable for any harm caused by their failure to provide an appropriate work environment. If you were affected by employment discrimination or harassment at your job, it is essential to meet with an experienced labor and employment attorney to discuss your case. Attorney Gregory S. Schaer can assess the facts surrounding your situation and advise you on your options for seeking recourse. Mr. Schaer represents employees in employment lawsuits throughout New Jersey, including in Monmouth, Middlesex, and Ocean Counties. Mr. Schaer also provides consultation, representation, and assistance to employers with labor and employment issues and problems.Employment Discrimination
Employees are protected from discrimination under state and federal laws. Specifically, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination based on their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Additionally, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Equal Pay Act prohibit discrimination based on a person’s age, disability, or gender. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) provides much broader protections than the federal statutes. In addition to the classes protected by the federal statutes, the LAD prohibits discrimination based on a person’s creed, ancestry, pregnancy, sexual orientation, familial status, and several other enumerated traits. If an employer takes an adverse action against an employee based on his or her membership in a class protected by the LAD or the federal statutes, an employment attorney in New Jersey such as the Law Offices of Gregory S. Schaer can help the employee sue for discrimination.
Sexual harassment is one of the most common issues that affect employees in the workplace. While sexual harassment often involves explicit sexual advances, any harassment based on a person’s gender constitutes sexual harassment. Employees are also frequently harassed due to their age, race, or religious practices. Sexual harassment or other harassment based on a protected characteristic is actionable when it is so pervasive and severe that it creates a hostile work environment.Retaliation and Whistleblowing
The Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) forbids an employer from retaliating against an employee due to the employee’s complaint, objection to, or reporting of the employer’s engagement in an illegal activity or an activity that violates public policy. CEPA was enacted to protect employees who report unethical or illegal activities in the workplace from an adverse employment action. The statute of limitations for a CEPA claim is one year, which is shorter than the limitations period for many other claims. The limitations period runs from the date of the adverse employment action that was taken in retaliation for reporting the employer’s prohibited activity. Therefore, an employee who believes that they may have been subjected to retaliation should immediately seek legal advice from an experienced labor and employment attorney such as the Law Offices of Gregory S. Schaer.Wrongful Termination/Wrongful Discharge
Although New Jersey is an at-will employment state, an employee may still have certain rights and protections against wrongful termination. For example, if an employee has an express or implied employment contract and is terminated in breach of that contract, or if the employer did not follow certain policies and procedures contained in an Employee Handbook, it may be actionable. A wrongful termination also occurs when an employer terminates an employee for an illegal or discriminatory reason. An employee who is terminated for an unlawful reason or in violation of the terms of a contract can retain a New Jersey employment attorney to pursue a claim against his or her employer for wrongful termination.
It is unlawful under state and federal laws for an employer to discriminate against an employee due to the employee’s disability. Thus, an employer cannot treat an employee unfavorably because of a mental or physical disability, as long as the employee can perform the essential duties of his or her job. Additionally, if an employee is disabled, he or she is entitled to a reasonable accommodation that would enable him or her to perform the essential job duties. If you requested an accommodation for your disability, but your employer denied your request, your employer may have violated your rights.Family Leave
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides covered employees with the right to take up to 12 weeks off from work per year due to a serious health condition, a serious health condition of a spouse, child, or parent, or the birth or adoption of a child. Similarly, the New Jersey Family Leave Act (FLA) grants certain employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of family leave per each 24-month period. The FLA does not permit employees to take leave for their own serious health conditions, however. In addition to the state and federal laws that provide protection for sick employees, most employees have a right to accrue up to 40 hours of earned sick leave per year under New Jersey’s Earned Sick Leave Law. If an employer takes retaliatory action against an employee for exercising their right to family leave or using sick days, a New Jersey employment lawyer such as the Law Offices of Gregory S. Schaer can help them pursue a claim.Severance Agreements
Although it is not required by law, many employers will provide employees who are laid off or terminated with severance packages. If your employer offers you a severance package, it is prudent to retain a skilled employment attorney to review your severance agreement to ensure that the terms are not overly restrictive and that any essential terms are included. Additionally, an attorney can assist you in negotiating with your employer to obtain more favorable terms, such as extended benefits or an increase in the amount of your severance.Non-Compete and Non-Solicitation Agreements
In certain fields, an employer will ask an employee to sign a non-compete agreement or a non-solicitation agreement, also known as restrictive covenants, which limits the employee’s right to work for other employers. Although non-compete agreements (restrictive covenants) are not favored by the New Jersey courts, they are enforceable if they are reasonable. Whether an agreement will be deemed reasonable will depend upon many different factors including the duration, geographic scope and other issues including whether the agreement would impose an undue hardship on the employee, whether the agreement would cause public harm, and whether the agreement is limited to protecting the employer's legitimate interests. If you have been asked to sign a non-compete agreement, non-solicitation agreement or restrictive covenant, you should consult an employment lawyer in New Jersey to review the contract and assess whether the terms are reasonable.Unemployment Compensation Benefits
An employee who is terminated or laid off may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits if he or she meets certain requirements. Specifically, the employee must show that he or she earned enough income during the relevant period to qualify for benefits and that he or she was not fired for misconduct. Although generally an individual who quits or resigns is not eligible for unemployment compensation benefits, an employee who left the job voluntarily or quit with good cause, may be eligible for benefits. After the employee files a claim for benefits, they will be notified of a fact-finding interview after which they will receive a benefit eligibility determination. If an employee’s request for benefits is denied, there is a brief window in which he or she can appeal to the Appeal Tribunal of the New Jersey Department of Labor. If the Appeal Tribunal subsequently denies the employee’s appeal, he or she can appeal that decision to the Board of Review of the New Jersey Department of Labor. The Board of Review generally issues a decision based on the written submissions of the parties. Finally, the Board of Review’s decision can be appealed to the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court. However, it is important to see legal advice as soon as the initial determination is received so that you can properly prepare and create a record for any future appeals.At-Will Employment
New Jersey is an “at-will” employment state. In other words, an employer can fire an employee at any time, with or without cause. Similarly, an employee can terminate the employment relationship at his or her discretion. There are some exceptions to this general rule, however, such as in cases in which there are statutory or contractual restrictions. Additionally, an employer cannot fire an employee for reasons that violate New Jersey or federal anti-discrimination laws. If you believe that you lost your job due to an improper reason, an employment attorney in New Jersey can bring a claim against your employer.Employment Contracts
Under New Jersey law, an employer and an employee can enter into a written employment contract that sets forth each party’s rights and obligations. In some cases, even if the parties do not have an express written agreement, an employer's statements may be enforceable as an implied contract. Regardless of whether they are express or implied, employment contracts are an exception to at-will employment. Therefore, an employer can be held liable for breaching the terms of the contract.Meet with an Experienced Employment Attorney
If you were a victim of misconduct in the workplace, or if you an employer in need of assistance with a labor and employment matter, you should consult an employment attorney to discuss your potential claims. Gregory S. Schaer, Esq. can provide you with tenacious representation to help you protect your rights. Mr. Schaer has significant experience litigating employment cases in state and federal courts and will aggressively pursue any compensation that you may be owed. You can contact us at 732-462-5626 or through the online form to schedule a consultation with a skilled employment lawyer in New Jersey.