Category Archives: Employment Attorney

Learn The Laws For Tipped Employees In New Jersey

Learn The Laws For Tipped Employees In New Jersey

If you are one of the numerous employees in New Jersey who receive tips, it is important for you to understand the laws that apply to tipped employees. There are wage and hour laws that apply specifically to tipped employees, giving you some protection. If you believe that your employer has violated the laws for tipped employees, the experienced employment law attorneys at Swartz Swidler might be able to help you to recover the money that you are owed.

Understanding the basics

Under both federal and state law, tips belong to you rather than to your employer. Your employer is not allowed to ask you to give your tips to the employer unless an exception applies as follows:

  • Counting the tips towards the employer’s minimum wage requirements as a tip credit
  • A valid tip pool is in place in which your tips are shared with other employees

Under the federal law, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but under New Jersey law, the minimum wage is $8.44 per hour. As a New Jersey worker, you have the right to earn the higher state minimum wage. In many states, employers are allowed to pay tipped employees less than the minimum wage as long as the employees are able to make up the difference in tips. This is called a tip credit. In New Jersey, your combined wages and tips must together add up to at least $8.44 per hour, and the tip wage rate may be set by your employer. For tipped employees doing non-tipped work, the rules are different. If your job requires you to spend part of your shift doing non-tipped work and spend more than 20 percent of your time doing the non-tipped activities, your employer must pay you the full minimum wage and cannot take a tip credit for those hours when you are not receiving tips.

Tip pools

Tip pooling laws govern tip sharing in restaurants and elsewhere. Tipped employees may take part in a tip pool in which only the tipped employees may participate. They must be notified of the tip pool, and they may not have to share more than what is reasonable. The tips in the pool must be divided among the participating employees only, and the employer is not allowed to take a cut.

What counts as a tip?

When tipping is voluntary, whatever amount customers leave above the charge for the services or products plus tax are tips. However, if employers impose mandatory service charges or the customers use credit cards to pay, the rules might change.

Mandatory service charges

It is common for restaurants to add mandatory service charges on the bills for private parties, catered events or large tables. These charges are not considered to be tips even if the customers believe that you will receive them although your employer may choose to give you a portion if he or she wishes.

Credit card charges

While New Jersey law does not address payments by credit cards, some states allow employers to take a portion of their employees’ tips that is proportionate to the amount of the credit card charges that they pay. For example, if your employer has to pay 3 percent to accept the credit card payment, your tip for that service may also be reduced by 3 percent.

Contact Our Attorneys

If you are a tipped employee who believes that your employer is not paying you what you should receive, you might want to consult with the experienced employment law attorneys at Swartz Swidler. Call us today to schedule your appointment and to learn more about tipped employees rights.

Swartz Swidler Prevails in Appellate Court Matter Dealing With Applicability of Dispute Resolution Provision of Employment Contract

Swartz Swidler recently prevailed in an appellate court matter dealing with the applicability of a dispute resolution provision of an employment contract.

Swartz Swidler represents Dr. Forrest Anthony, the former vice president and chief medical officer for Eleison Pharmaceuticals, LLC. in Bordentown, New Jersey. In February 2012 the parties entered into an employment agreement. In February 2015, Dr. Anthony terminated the agreement in accordance with its terms. On April 10, 2015 Swartz Swidler, on Dr. Anthony’s behalf, filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County asserting that Eleison (1) had only paid Dr. Anthony about 64 percent of the compensation that he was owed pursuant to the employment agreement and (2) had paid Dr. Anthony no compensation at all between September 1, 2014 and February 10, 2015, the date that Dr. Anthony terminated the employment agreement. The lawsuit asserted claims of (1) failure to timely pay all wages due and owing at least once each calendar month, in violation of the New Jersey Wage Payment Law (“NJWPA”); (2) failure to pay minimum wage, in violation of the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law (“NJWHL”); (3) failure to pay overtime, in violation of the NJWHL, (4) failure to pay all wages due and owing at the end of employment, in violation of the NJWPA, and (5) breach of contract.

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Instead of an Answer, Eleison and other Defendants named in the lawsuit filed on Dr. Anthony’s behalf filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and to compel the parties to instead utilize the dispute resolution provision of the employment agreement. Defendants argued that Dr. Anthony’s claims arose from the employment agreement and that Dr. Anthony had agreed to arbitrate all claims, including claims arising from statute, which arose from the employment agreement. At oral argument on the motion, Defendants also argued, for the first time, that a plaintiff’s private right of action under the NJWPA is limited to allegations of the existence of an employment agreement that violates the law. Swartz Swidler opposed Defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

The trial court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss and compelled the parties to utilize the dispute resolution provision of the employment agreement. Swartz Swidler timely appealed the trial court’s decision.

On July 18, 2016, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division – New Jersey’s intermediate appellate court – vacated the trial court’s decision and remanded the case to the trial court. The Appellate Division first held that a plaintiff’s private right of action under the NJWPA is not limited to allegations of the existence of an employment agreement that violates the law. It proceeded to hold that “the arbitration clause included no reference to a waiver of plaintiff’s statutory rights or a jury trial. Consequently, it did not constitute a valid waiver of plaintiff’s right to have his claims decided in a judicial forum.”

A copy of the Appellate Division’s opinion in Forrest Anthony v. Eleison Pharmaceuticals, LLC et. al. may be found here.

Swartz Swidler is a law firm that represents employees nationwide on employment issues arising from both federal and state law, including issues such as the inclusion and construction of dispute resolution provisions within employment contracts. If you are an employee that thinks you may need legal assistance as to your employment, please contact the law firm of Swartz Swidler, LLC today.

Recovering alcoholic claims illegal treatment and firing

A Florida resident filed suit against a New York City-based firm claiming violation of employment law in a 2012 series of alleged actions that he claims were orchestrated in retaliation for him being a recovering alcoholic.

Plaintiff of Pompano Beach, Fla., sued Computer Generated Solutions in the U.S. District Court Middle District of Pennsylvania on July 6, claiming disability discrimination by his employer throughout 2012 following a detainment across international borders. According to court documents, the plaintiff disclosed to defendant’s human resources department during his February 2012 hiring interview that he was and continues to be a recovering alcoholic.

The suit states that at no point during his employment did the plaintiff begin drinking; and that when he was required to travel to Canada on business in late April 2012, he was denied entry due to a previous D.U.I. charge. Flathmann alleges that his supervisor responded by calling him a drunk, then systematically eliminating his work and otherwise creating obstacles to his continued employment.

When the plaintiff allegedly reported the actions to HR in June and again in August 2012, he was supposedly told to resolve it himself. Maintaining that the defendant continued to sabotage his work, the plaintiff avers that his supervisor fired him on or about Sept. 14, 2012.

The suit states that retaliation and dismissal were based on his perceived and/or actual disability and his legally protected complaints, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. Alleging a hostile work environment, Flathmann seeks monetary damages, attorney’s fees, and court costs. He is represented by Daniel Horowitz of Swartz Swidler in Cherry Hill, N.J. U.S. District Court Middle District of Pennsylvania Case 1:15-cv-01318-JEJ.

See more at: http://pennrecord.com/stories/510629023-recovering-alcoholic-claims-illegal-treatment-and-firing#sthash.pRIKZS7U.dpuf

Supreme Court clarifies when employers must accommodate pregnant employees

Pregnant Employees must be granted reasonable accommodations when the employer has provided similar accommodations to other individuals with similar limitations.

The United States Supreme Court ruling is a victory for Peggy Young, a former driver for UPS who claimed the package company violated her rights under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). She will now have a chance to prove her case in a lower court where she had previously lost.  The ruling further provides support for women who are facing discrimination due to pregnancy.

When Young became pregnant in 2006, Peggy Young’s doctor told her not to lift anything heavier than 20 pounds for the first 20 weeks of her pregnancy. When she requested a reasonable accommodation from her boss, she was denied her request for light duty. Instead, UPS placed her on unpaid leave and cancelled her health benefits. She was told that UPS only provided accommodations to three categories of workers: those who had been injured on the job, those who lost their Department of Transportation certifications, and those who have a disability as defined by the Americans with Disability Act. Because pregnancy is not a generally a disability under federal law, UPS refused to provide the pregnant worker any accommodation. She sued UPS for discrimination.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires employers to accommodate pregnant women who have work restrictions. While not in issue in this case, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination also requires accommodations for pregnant employees.

Young claimed that UPS’s failure to accommodate pregnant women violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, a federal law providing that “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same” as other employees who are “similar in their ability or inability to work”. Young argued that because UPS did offer light accommodation to some employees, it must offer her the same accommodation.

UPS maintained that the company’s policy complied with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and that it was a pregnancy neutral policy.

Young lost the case in federal district court which ruled in favor of UPS on a summary judgment motion. Then she appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit which affirmed the previous decision, saying that UPS did not violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Action because its light duty policy is pregnancy-blind: it treats pregnant and non-pregnant workers the same and accommodates only those who fall within the three categories of workers identified.

After losing her appeal, Young asked the Supreme Court to decide whether UPS acted unlawfully. The question was whether the Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires companies to offer light-duty options to pregnant workers if they already do so for non-pregnant workers in who are “similar in their ability to or inability to work.”

According to the Court, a middle ground approach was necessary. The problem with Young’s approach was that it argued that the statue granted pregnant workers a “most-favored-nation” status. The Court agreed with UPS in: “ We doubt that Congress intended (in passing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act) to grant pregnant workers an unconditional most-favored-nation status.” So a pregnant worker is not necessarily entitled to the same accommodations as an individual who is disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Court further held that the EEOC position in this issue is ambiguous and the Court therefore did not rely upon it in reaching its determination. Before Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the EEOC issued guidance that “disabilities caused or contributed to by pregnancy….are, for all job-related purposes, temporary disabilities” and that “the availability of….benefits and privileges…shall be applied to disability due to pregnancy or childbirth on the same terms and conditions as they are applied to other temporary disabilities”. After the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed, the EEOC issued further guidance, stating that “[i]f other employees temporarily unable to lift are relieved of these functions, pregnant employees also unable to lift must be temporarily relieved of the function.” This post-Act guidance, according to the Court, simply tells employers to treat pregnancy related disabilities like nonpregnancy-related disabilities, without clarifying how that instruction should be implemented when an employer does not treat all nonpregnancy related disabilities alike. In July 2014 the EEOC promulgated an additional guideline apparently designed to address that ambiguity. That guideline says that “[a]n employer may not refuse to treat a pregnant worker the same as other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work by relying on a policy that makes distinctions based on the source of an employee’s limitations (e.g., a policy of providing light duty only to workers injured on the job). However, according to the Court, first “the EEOC’s current guidelines take a position about which the EEOC’s previous guidelines were silent” and second, “that position is inconsistent with positions for which the Government has long advocated.”

The Court vacated the 2013 ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court held that a plaintiff may reach a jury on this issue by providing sufficient evidence that the employer’s policies impose a significant burden on pregnant workers, and that the employer’s “legitimate, nondiscriminatory” reasons are not sufficiently strong to justify the burden, but rather—when considered along with the burden imposed—give rise to an inference of intentional discrimination. Additionally, a plaintiff can create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether a significant burden exists by providing evidence that the employer accommodates a large percentage of nonpregnant workers while failing to accommodate a large percentage of pregnant workers. That means that a pregnant worker could prevail in a claim of pregnancy discrimination if she can show that the employer accommodates most non-pregnant employees who have a similar restriction to that of the pregnant worker.

The Court also found that Young produced evidence that UPS has multiple policies that accommodate nonpregnant employees with lifting restrictions which suggests that its reasons for failing to accommodate pregnant employees with lifting restrictions are not sufficiently strong to create an undue burden in providing the accommodation. Importantly, an employer may not defeat a claim by simply arguing that there is a cost associated with providing the accommodation.

You can read this Supreme’s Court decision here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/12-1226_k5fl.pdf

Meanwhile states and cities are enacting their own laws requiring employers to accommodate pregnant workers. In 2014, New Jersey passed S2995/A4486. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for an employee’s needs related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including recovery from childbirth, absent undue hardship. The New Jersey Law against Discrimination and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act also protect individuals from pregnancy discrimination.  The City of Philadelphia passed an ordinance in 2014 that requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees for needs related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition, so long as such accommodations will not cause an undue hardship to the employer. Phila. Code § 9-1128.

If you are pregnant and you have questions about your rights at your workplace, please call us for a free and confidential consultation at (856) 685-7420

Supreme Court Upholds Determination that Loan Officers Were Entitled to Overtime

Mortgage loan officers might be now entitled to a 40-hour work week and overtime pay, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Department of Labor acted within its authority when it reclassified loan officers as non-exempt employees who are eligible for overtime.

The ruling stems from a 2010 decision by the Department of Labor to reclassify loan officers. According to its “Administrator’s Interpretation”, loan officers in the mortgage banking industry generally do not qualify as exempt from overtime under the administrative exemption of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

In 1999 and in 2001, the DOL Wage and Hour (W&H) Division issued Opinion Letters concluding that mortgage loan officers do not qualify for the administrative exemption, and therefore must be paid minimum wage and overtime.  Then, following the DOL’s update of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) regulations in 2004, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) requested a new opinion interpreting the revised regulations. Therefore, in 2006, the DOL changed course and issued a new Opinion Letter, stating that loan officers could generally qualify as exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements under the FLSA.

In order to comply with this administrative exemption under the FLSA, an employee’s job duties and compensation must meet all of the following tests:

  1. The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis as defined in the regulations at a rate not less than $455 per week;
  2. The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers; and
  3. The employee’s primary duty must include the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.

However, in 2010 the DOL issued an “Administrator Interpretation” concluding that mortgage loan officers generally do not perform the type of duties necessary to qualify for the administrative exemption of the FLSA.  In fact, the 2010 interpretation focuses on the application of the second test to employees who perform the typical jobs duties of a mortgage loan officer, that is, whether the primary duty of employees who perform the typical job duties of a mortgage loan officer is office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of their employer or their employer’s customers.

According to the facts found during the DOL Wage and Hour Division investigations and the facts set out in the case law establish, the typical mortgage loan officer job duties are: speaking with potential customers, collecting their financial information, running credit reports, and giving those potential customers information about the loan products that suit them more based on the matches than a computer program does based on the financial information provided.

The DOL based its 2010 interpretation in the difference between work related to the goods and services which constitute the business’ marketplace offerings (in this case, loans) and work which contributes to ‘running the business itself’. Thus, the DOL’s interpretation of law states that mortgage loan officers’ primary duty is making sales.

The new interpretation of the FLSA administrative exemption, prompted the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) to sue, arguing that because the DOL had previously issued an Opinion Letter in 2006 determining that loan officers could generally qualify as exempt from minimum wage and overtime under the administrative exemption, the DOL could not change its prior position without first issuing a written notice and allowing a comment period pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The federal District Court disagreed with the MBA, and ruled in favor of DOL. The MBA appealed, and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the MBA and vacated the Administrator’s Interpretation. In late 2013, following the decision by the Court of Appeals, the federal District Court issued an order on remand vacating and setting aside the 2010 DOL Interpretation, rendering it of no effect. However, the DOL appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On March 9, 2015, the Supreme Court reinstates the 2010 Interpretation which represents the current position of the agency. As noted by the Supreme Court, the 2010 Interpretation is merely an “interpretative rule” that is issued to advise the public of the DOL’s construction of the statutes and rules which it administers and is not a “legislative rule” that has the “force and effect of law.”  Furthermore, the Department of Labor is not subjected to the APA’s public notice-and-comment requirement because it doesn’t apply to interpretive rules; ”because  an agency is not required to use notice-and-comment procedures to issue an initial interpretive rule, it is also not required to use those procedures to amend or repeal that rule,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in the consensus opinion.

The Supreme Court case is Perez et al. v. Mortgage Bankers Association, case number 13-1041, and Nickols et al. v. Mortgage Bankers Association, case number 13-1052, decided March 9, 2015.

Finally, as the DOL clearly remarks, a job title (in this case, “mortgage loan officer”) does not determine whether an employee is exempt. The employee’s actual job duties and compensation determine whether the employee is exempt or nonexempt. Therefore, if you currently hold a mortgage loan officer position and you want to find out about your particular situation, please feel free to contact our staff for a free and confidential consultation.

If you have worked as a loan officer or in a similar capacity and were denied overtime pay, please contact Swartz Swidler today to speak to one of our New Jersey employment attorneys.  There is no cost for the consultation, and we typically accept cases on a contingent basis, meaning there is no upfront cost to you, and we only get paid if we obtain a recovery in your favor.

Sexual Harassment and Discrimination in New Jersey

Sexual harassment is a specific type of workplace discrimination based on sex . It includes: unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature in which submission to or rejection of such conduct explicitly or implicitly affects and individual’s work or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) protects employees from sexual harassment, making illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of sex, among others facts.

The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. Most states have rules that protect individuals from sexual harassment too. For instance, The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (N.J.S.A. 10:5-12) (LAD) makes it unlawful to subject people to differential treatment based on race, creed, color, national origin, nationality, ancestry, age, sex (including pregnancy), familial status, marital status, domestic partnership or civil union status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, genetic information, liability for military service, and mental or physical disability, perceived disability, and AIDS and HIV status. Whereas, the Rule 202 of the Pennsylvania code prohibits discrimination and harassment because of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability or religion.

Although the law does not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

There are different types of sexual harassment recognized by the United States Supreme Court and the EEOC.  The two most common types of sexual harassment are:

  1. Quid pro quo– Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a beneficial condition of employment is premised upon an employee’s submission to sexual advances. Frequently, that claim is also raised when an employee rejects a sexual advance, and claims a connection between that rejection and a subsequent adverse job action. That action might be a denial of a raise or promotion, a termination, or a “constructive discharge” where an employee claims that the retaliation made his or her job conditions intolerable. This type of harassment is less common.
  2. Hostile environment– When unwelcome, severe and persistent sexual conduct on the part of a perpetrator creates an uncomfortable and hostile environment (e.g., jokes, lewd postures, leering, inappropriate touching, rape, etc.). This type of harassment constitutes up to 95% of all sexual harassment cases. However, there is no clear definition of  “hostile environment workplace”. It can occur where jokes, suggestive remarks, physical interference with movement (such as blocking one’s path), pictures, cartoons, or sexually derogatory comments alter the circumstances of the workplace. Generally, repeated conduct is required to prove a hostile work environment, and a “stray comment” has been held not to alter the working conditions sufficiently to create a cause of action. However, some comments or conduct can be so severe that a single incident can create liability.

Research into sexual harassment provide that that there are a variety of circumstances involved in a case of sexual harassment:

  • Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.
  • The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

The Equal Employment Opportuniy Commission, received 6,862 charges of workplace sexual harassment in 2014, a number that has been fairly stagnant over the past few years. 17.5% of it, are charges filed by males.

Statistics in sexual harassment since 2010

According to the United States Department of Justice, only approximately 30% of sexual assault cases are reported to authorities.   Though a significant number of Americans are victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, many don’t report it out of fear of retaliation, worries their co-workers will make them feel ashamed by the experience and other concerns.

Suffering harassment at the workplace not only affects the person’s ability to work but creates emotional distress and physical reactions. The most common ones are:

  • Poor concentration at work
  • Stress on personal relationships
  • Fear/anxiety
  • Debilitating depression
  • Sleep/weight problems
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Staff turnover
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Tarnished company reputation
  • Increased payouts for sick leave and medical benefits
  • Vulnerability to hostile confrontations
  • Legal and consultant costs
  • Lower staff productivity
  • Poor staff morale
  • Less teamwork

Employers have the obligation to act if a sexual harassment incident occurs. An important component of harassment prevention is the creation and dissemination of a sexual harassment prohibition policy and reporting procedure. This policy is critical because under federal case law, an employer fulfills its obligation if it takes all reasonable steps to prevent harassment before it occurs, and to take effective steps to remedy harassment after it takes place. If an employer demonstrates those attempts at prevention and remediation, it might not be found liable for the act of harassment itself.

Elements of a proper sexual harassment policy are the following:

A policy statement. This is a document that prescribes acceptable methods or behaviors. It should set forth a broad definition of sexual harassment. It must ban all behavior that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. It should make clear that submission to any type of that conduct cannot be made, explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of employment, or used as a basis for any employment decisions. It must be a non-retaliation policy, meaning that the company must practice and protect complainants and witnesses from any retaliation from any source as a result of initiating or supporting a sexual harassment allegation. It is important that it designates several appropriate individuals authorized to receive the harassment complaint. This will prevent the situation in which the alleged harasser is the person to whom the complaint would logically be addressed.

Specific procedures for prevention. The policy should make sexual harassment a disciplinary offense, and reserve the right to terminate an employee found in that conduct. It is recommended to establish training programs in sexual harassment prevention,

Urge employees to raise and resolve their concerns at an early stage: The policy must actively encourage victims of sexual harassment to report the behavior.

Once a complaint is arisen, employers must establish a formal investigative process to find out more about the facts. This might include interviewing the complainant, the alleged harasser and any possible witnesses.  If the investigation finds that sexual harassment has occurred, some level of formal sanctions should be imposed. The range of sanctions could include a written reprimand, removal of management authority or duties, suspension, or termination; the proper remedy has to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

If you think you have been a victim of sexual harassment, the following actions may help, though you should contact one of our employment attorneys so that we can advise you further.  Depending on the specific situation, other action may be more prudent:

  • Say “no” clearly: Express verbally that behavior must stop.
  • Document the harassment: Keep a written log, keep track of dates, times, and behavior.
  • Look for co-workers that can act as witness of your situation at work.
  • Talk to the individuals authorized to receive the harassment complaint in your company. They can be your supervisor, the Human Resources manager, the director or even the president. They should know about your situation and take immediate action. It is highly recommend it to write them about the incident/incidents and keep a copy for your records.
  • Use e-mail to document your concerns where possible.
  • Call us to receive a free assessment on your case.

Employment Attorneys meet with EEOC to discuss National Origin Discrimination Concerns

EEOC - Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) conference highlighting employment discrimination due to national origin was held in Washington, D.C. on November 13, 2013.

Discrimination on the basis of national origin is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This protection can be broadly applied not only to discrimination resulting merely from a persons place of birth or ancestry. Also applicable would be discrimination on the basis of cultural or linguistic characteristic, such as accents and clothing. The law thus protects, for example, an Indian man’s right to wear a turban, or a Czech’s heavy accent.

New Jersey Voters Stand Behind Workers and Raise Minimum Wage

On November 4th New Jersey residents voted in favor of raising the state minimum wage to $8.25 an hour. Voters overwhelmingly supported the raise, which additionally amends the state Constitution to adjust the minimum wage in tandem with the rise of inflation.

The results of the public ballot will amend Article I of the New Jersey State Constitution. The amendment begins by stating its intentions rather triumphantly:

Employment Non Discrimination Act (“ENDA”) Passes the United States Senate

The country may be in store for a new federal civil rights act, this one protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees from employment discrimination. Monday, U.S. Senate member voted to begin debate on the Employment nondiscrimination Act, also known as ENDA. A vote on whether or not to pass the law could happen as soon as later this week. If passed, the law would outlaw sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination nationwide, including in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

New Jersey Legislature Passes Two New Laws Designed at Reducing Employment Discrimination

New Jersey employees had reason to rejoice this summer, as the New Jersey legislature passed two pieces of legislation on August 27th that strengthens employee privacy and prohibit certain types of discrimination based on private matters.