Articles Posted in Wage Payment Law

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There are certain employment practices that are obviously discriminatory. An employer who openly refuses to hire any LGBT+ person, a supervisor who jokes about all Mexicans being lazy or an HR manager who opines that “pregnancy always makes a woman crazy” are all obvious things. A lot of instances of discrimination aren’t nearly this obvious. Something as seemingly benign (and non-discriminatory) as a letter from the federal government about a worker’s employment eligibility verification paperwork can be the trigger for that employer to engage in illegal practices. If your employer has taken adverse employment action against you (such as forcing you onto unpaid leave or firing you) because it received a “no match” letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA), your employer may have violated the law. Contact a knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorney promptly to find out what you can do.

In March 2019, the federal government began sending “Employer Correction Request” notices, which are often more commonly known as “no match” letters, to employers. This March, the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, Department of Labor and the Attorney General published a joint “Dear Employer” guidance letter to provide employers and employees with useful information and to help employers steer clear of actions that potentially violate New Jersey law.

On the federal employment eligibility verification form, also known as the I-9 form, is something that most all of us have filled out at some point when starting a new job. An employee discloses their name and Social Security number. “No match” letters, which the federal government stopped entirely in 2012 but restarted last year, are letters from the Social Security Administration that inform an employer that the name and the number contained on an employee’s I-9 form don’t match.

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Discrimination law in New Jersey has undergone important changes in recent years, and potentially may be undergoing more. The changes reflect the clear awareness that there’s still more to do in order to stamp out the ills of discrimination and harassment in workplaces in this state. As the laws continue to evolve, the opportunities you have to obtain the compensation you need and deserve for the harm you suffered on the job may be increasing. If you’ve been hurt by workplace discrimination or harassment, make sure you reach out to an experienced New Jersey employment discrimination attorney without delay.

Earlier this year, Governor Phil Murphy announced a proposal that would make numerous beneficial changes to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Before that, though, New Jersey’s state government had already taken some important steps to stamp out certain discrimination, including the discrimination inflicted through the wage gap.

The state passed the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act in 2018. This March, the Division on Civil Rights published a guidance document to help employees and employers understand what the Equal Pay Act does for workers. One very important thing to know about the law is that it applies to more than just the gender wage gap.

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For the vast majority of workers in New Jersey, the law with regard to paid sick leave is about to change. On May 2, 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a bill that will take effect on Oct. 29, 2018 and require almost all Garden State employers to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave to their workers. The law makes New Jersey the 10th state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to have a paid sick leave law on the books. The Governor’s Office declared the law to be “one of the most expansive paid sick leave programs in the nation.” As with any employment right guaranteed by New Jersey law, it may sometimes be necessary to go to court to protect and enforce those rights. Whether it is paid sick leave, overtime, minimum wage, discrimination, or sexual harassment, if you think you have been harmed on the job by illegal conduct, contact a knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorney about your situations and the options available to you.

The new law will allow workers to accumulate one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work, up to a maximum of 40 hours. Most employers already offered paid sick leave to their workers, but one-third of the state’s workforce (approximately 1.2 million people) didn’t have access to paid sick leave, according to nj.com.

The new law will allow workers to use their paid sick leave for a variety of purposes. Seeking a diagnosis, care, treatment of, or recovery from your own mental illness or physical condition is obviously included. So is preventative care. You can also use your leave for the diagnosis, treatment, recovery, or preventative care of a loved one. If you or a family member has been a victim of domestic violence or sexual violence, the process of seeking services related to that violence is something for which you can use your paid sick leave. A “public health emergency” also qualifies. Thus, if, for example, officials close your office or your child’s school due to a flu outbreak, you can use your leave for this. “A school-related meeting or event with regard to” your child is also on the list.

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Almost anyone familiar with the phrases “exempt employee” and “non-exempt employee” understands that exempt employees generally are not entitled to receive overtime pay. However, what if you are an exempt employee who performs work that is potentially outside the parameters of your employment contract? In that situation, you may be entitled to receive extra pay for that extra-contractual work. One important way to protect your financial rights and get everything that you deserve is to retain a knowledgeable New Jersey overtime attorney to advocate for you.

One case of workers involved in such a dispute were two employees of the Atlantic City schools who worked during Superstorm Sandy. Sandy was definitely an occasion when many people found themselves performing tasks outside their usual employment routine. As the superstorm bore down upon the New Jersey area, many emergency measures were undertaken. The City of Atlantic City asked to use the Atlantic City Board of Education’s schools as shelters. Gary and Dewane, two supervisory-level employees of the board, worked at the shelters both before and during the storm. For their work before and during the storm, Gary received $3,174, and Dewane received almost $14,000.

After the men received their money, a state agency determined that employees like Gary and Dewane weren’t entitled to overtime under the terms of their employment contracts. Both men were administrators who earned annual salaries and were exempt from receiving overtime pay, in the opinion of the agency.

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The issue of compliance with overtime and minimum wage requirements is an emerging one within the realm of certain adult entertainment businesses. Many exotic dancers have begun taking their employers to court to claim that the pay they receive doesn’t satisfy the minimum wage. Some clubs have used the “employee versus independent contractor” argument to attempt to escape liability. Others have inserted in their agreements with their dancers clauses requiring arbitration of disputes.

In the case of one Rahway dancer, the dancer was able to avoid being forced into arbitration after the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that arbitration clauses must have specific language to include statutory claims like minimum wage and discrimination, and the dancer’s clause didn’t have that wording. The dancer’s victory here shows once again that, in many employment cases, the difference between success and defeat is in the details, which is why you need a knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorney on your side.

Alissa was an exotic dancer at a men’s club in Rahway. As is often common in this business field, this club required their dancers to sign contracts that stated that the dancers were independent contractors who were merely renting performance space inside the club. The contract also had another common provision:  the arbitration clause. This clause stated that either party could seek to compel arbitration of any dispute that arose under the terms of the contract.

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Everyone generally begins a new job hoping it will be a complete success, and it is generally while filled with these high hopes that an employee signs his employment contract, complete with all of its “fine print.” In the case of one pharmaceutical company employee, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued an important ruling in favor of workers, concluding that the law allowed him to bring his Wage Payment Law action and that the arbitration clause in his employment contract was unenforceable.

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