New Jersey State Labor Laws

New Jersey State Labor Laws

New Jersey workers are protected by both state and federal laws through every aspect of the employment process. This includes from recruitment to job termination and everything that happens in between. The employment law attorneys at Swartz and Swidler have outlined some information about the protections that are provided, including prohibitions against discrimination, overtime and minimum wage requirements and the right to take leave from work.

NJ labor laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment

Federal law prohibits employers from making decisions regarding employment that are based on sex, pregnancy, age, national origin, genetic information, disability, color or race. Covered employers include those with at least 15 employees. Federal anti-discrimination law based on age covers employers with at least 20 employees. Discrimination is prohibited in all aspects, including job advertisements, interviews, applications, hiring decisions, benefits, pay, promotions, performance reviews, discipline, firings and layoffs.

In addition, New Jersey workers are also protected under state law. New Jersey employees are also protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation, atypical hereditary blood or cellular traits, gender identity, marital status, unemployment status, military service or using a service animal. New Jersey’s laws are enforced by the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights.

Harassment in the workplace based on a protected trait is also illegal. Harassment involves unwelcome comments or actions that are based on the victim’s protected characteristics and that create a hostile work environment. The most common type is sexual harassment, but it may also be based on disability, race and other protected characteristics.

Employers are also forbidden from retaliating against workers who complain about discrimination or harassment. This means that an employer is not allowed to fire, discipline or penalize you in any way if you complain either internally or to a government agency or if you file a lawsuit.

Workplace safety laws in New Jersey

The Occupational Safety and Health Act mandates that employers provide a safe workplace that is free of known dangers. Under the law, employers must provide safety equipment, training and safe working conditions for your particular industry.

Employees are allowed to request an Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection when they believe that their employers are violating safety regulations. If you do, your employer is prohibited from retaliating against you in any way.

Workers’ compensation in New Jersey

People who are injured while they are working are eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits in most cases. A majority of New Jersey employers are mandated by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. It provides workers with compensation for medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation and a portion of your normal earnings.

New Jersey wage and hour laws

The laws in New Jersey and the Fair Labor Standards Act govern the standards employers must follow for wage and hour issues. In 2016, the NJ Department of Labor mandates that employers pay their workers a minimum of $8.38 per hour, which is adjusted on an annual basis according to the consumer price index. The standard set by the NJ Department of Labor is higher than that set under federal law, which means that New Jersey employers must pay the state’s minimum wage.

Under both federal and state law, employees who work more than 40 hours in a week must be paid time and a half. Some employees are exempt from the overtime requirements, however. People can learn more by contacting the U.S. Department of Labor, the New Jersey Department of Labor or the law firm of Swartz and Swidler.

The right to take leave in New Jersey

While there is no requirement for employers to offer their workers paid leave, most do. New Jersey has temporary disability insurance and paid family leave available to people who need to take time off from work for those purposes.

Unpaid leave rights

New Jersey employers are required to offer unpaid leave for several things:

1. Family and medical leave

Employers in New Jersey who have at least 50 employees are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act. Under this law, covered employees are allowed to take unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks because of illness, a new child or taking care of ill family members. New Jersey mandates that covered employers must give those employees who are eligible up to 24 weeks every two years in order to care for a newborn child, a newly adopted child or a family member who is suffering from a serious health condition.

2. Domestic violence

Employers who have at least 25 employees must let those who are domestic violence or sexual violence victims leave from work in order to get legal or medical help, counseling or to deal with other matters. Workers are allowed to take up to 20 days off from their jobs for these things.

3. Military family leave

Employees who have family members in the military may take FMLA leave to handle certain matters that are caused by their family members’ deployment. Employers must also allow eligible workers to take up to 26 weeks off from work in one year in order to provide care for a family member who is seriously injured while on active duty.

4. Military leave

Both New Jersey and the federal government have military leave laws which require employers to let employees take time off from work in order to perform state or federal military service. When employees return from their military leave, they must be reinstated, and they may not be discriminated against because of their service. New Jersey’s military leave law also lets employees take off up to three months every four years for training, service school or annual assemblies.

5. Jury duty

Employees who are called for jury duty must be allowed to take time off to fulfill their obligations.

New Jersey insurance programs

New Jersey has two insurance programs that partially replace wages of employees who take time off from work. The temporary disability insurance program is available for workers in New jersey who are left with a temporary disability or who are pregnant. They receive 66 percent of their normal wages. The state’s family leave insurance program provides wage replacement for as many as six weeks while people are taking care of a seriously ill family member or while they are bonding with a new child. You can learn more about these insurance programs through the New Jersey Department of Labor.

Job termination

Employees in New Jersey are primarily employed at-will, which means their employers may fire them whenever they wish and for any reason. At-will employees may not be terminated for illegal reasons such as discrimination or retaliation.

Benefits after being terminated

People who lose their jobs in New Jersey without fault may be able to collect unemployment benefits. After people begin receiving benefits, they have to engage in active searching for work. Eligible workers receive a percentage of their previous incomes for up to 26 weeks while they remain unemployed.

People also have the right to continue their medical coverage after they have left their jobs under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which is a federal law. Workers will be responsible for paying the full premiums as well as up to 2 percent in administrative fees. People are allowed to continue their coverage from between 18 and 36 months.

If you believe that your employee rights have been violated in New Jersey, it is important that you act quickly under the NJ labor laws. Contact the law firm of Swartz Swidler to schedule an appointment.