Many people believe certain myths about employment law both in New Jersey and elsewhere. While it is improbable that you would know all of the various employment laws, the attorneys at Swartz Swidler, LLC believe that it is important for you to understand how you are both affected and protected under the existing employment laws. Here are some of the most common myths about employment law that we hear from our clients.
Myth #1: You can only be fired for a good reason
Many people believe this myth. However, New Jersey is an at-will employment state. Unless you have a contract, your employer may fire you for any reason at all with a couple of important exceptions. If you do not have a formal written contract, your employer may still have formed an implied contract through written policies and procedures for firing and etc. We can help you to determine whether or not your employer formed an implied contract with you. The other exception to the general rule is if your employer fired you because of your national origin, age, sex, color, disability, race and several other reasons. Your employer may also not fire you for whistleblowing or for engaging in protected activity.
Myth #2: Discrimination and harassment are the same thing
Many people believe that harassment and discrimination are the same under the law. This isn’t true, however. Harassment involves an employee being subjected to unwelcome sexual advances or sexual conduct is so pervasive that the work environment is hostile. One person is the target of harassment. Discrimination, on the other hand, involves treating groups of people unjustly based on their protected characteristics. This may include discrimination based on any of the following:
- Sexual orientation
- National origin
If you believe you have been the victim of either harassment or discrimination, an employment law attorney with Swartz Swidler, LLC may help you to assess your case and protect your employee rights.
Myth #3: Employers may not reduce your pay
Employers are allowed to reduce the pay of their employees who are not under contract. However, a reduction may not be because of an illegal reason such as a person’s race. If an employee has already done work for which he or she expected a certain pay rate, the employer must pay the employee at that rate. Pay reductions may not be made retroactively.
Myth #4:Only women and people who are members of minority groups can file discrimination claims
Although women and minorities are more likely to be discriminated against, people are not limited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to these specific groups in order to be protected. Instead, you must simply be a member of a protected class.
A person may be protected because of his or her disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act or because of his or her age if he or she is over the age of 40 under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Title VII protects anybody who is discriminated against or harassed because of their race, national origin, sex or religion. What this means is that majority racial group members or men may be victims of discrimination in some situations.
Myth #5: Only pregnant women can take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act
The FMLA provides that any employee who is covered under the act is entitled to take up to 12 weeks of approved leave in situations that qualify. The employer must be one that employs 50 or more people. The employee must have worked for at least one year before requesting the leave and must have worked at least 1,250 hours. You are entitled to take up to 12 weeks off if you have to care for your serious health condition or that of a family member, including your child, spouse or parent.
Contact an experienced New Jersey employment lawyer
At the law firm of Swartz Swidler, LLC, our experienced employment attorneys work to protect the rights of workers. We understand both the New Jersey and federal employment laws, and we work to recover damages that you deserve. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.