At one time, the area of employment law was known as “Master Servant Law.” Fortunately for both employers and employees, that title is now obsolete. However, employers are still entitled to an employee’s loyalty, respect and best efforts. Employees today are entitled to their civil rights and to be treated with respect and dignity. Over the past few decades, new laws have been passed that guarantee these protections.
If you do not have an employment contract and are not part of a union, you still have valuable employee protections based on federal and state statutes.
There is a significant number of employee protection statutes including, but not limited to:
- Sexual harassment
- Hostile work environment
- Gender discrimination
- Racial discrimination
- National origin discrimination
- Color discrimination
- Marital status discrimination
- Sexual status discrimination
- Reverse discrimination
- Religious discrimination
- Age discrimination
- Disability discrimination
- Whistle blower protection
- Taking a medical leave of absence
- Smoking discrimination
- Retaliation for objecting to illegal conduct
- Retaliationf for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim
- Wage protection and overtime disputes
- Benefits protection
- Civil rights
- Child labor protection
The most important way to protect your civil rights is to contact a qualified discrimination attorney when you believe discriminatory actions or harassment is occurring. Employment issues are subject to different Statutes of Limitations, meaning the acts must be reported within a specified time frame. If you do not act quickly enough, you may waive your right to legal actions in the future. Further, there are many strategic and timely actions you can take now to protect your rights well into your future. The best way to become aware of these rights and strategies is to speak to a qualified employment lawyer. If you need assistance with a possible employment case, contact us at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C. for a free initial consultation.
The following federal statutes offer employees valuable protection:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1974. This statute is very similar to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), and is followed by New Jersey Courts for guidance as how to interpret the LAD, especially as it pertains to sexual harassment.
Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended. This act is similar to the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act, as amended. This act protects employees over the age of 40 from discrimination.
Older Worker Benefits Protection Act of 1990 protects older employees and provides additional requirements in the area of settlement and general release agreements.
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 protects disabled workers from discrimination and applies to certain employers; this act only pertains to employers with more than 15 employees and has a much narrower definition of what is a covered disability or handicap than does the LAD.
Family Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2651(b) et seq. This act pertains to employers of a certain size and protects certain employees when they take leave due to their own serious health condition or due to a condition that renders them unable to perform the essential functions of their job. Additionally, the act also provides leave entitlement for the birth or adoption of an employee’s child, and for the serious health condition of a family member.
Employees Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1144(a).This act applies to employee benefits plans such as pension plans, 401k plans, and also pertains to coverage issues.
New Jersey Statutes
In New Jersey, several state statutes offer you important protections such as:
New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq. An employee or independent contractor can sue any employer, labor organization, employment agency, or place of public accommodation of any size if the individual was subject to sexual harassment or discrimination based upon disability status, affectional or sexual orientation, race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, gender or atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait of any individual, or because of the liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States or the nationality of any individual.
New Jersey Family Leave Act, N.J.S.A. 34:11B-1 et seq. This act requires that some employers provide various employees a leave of absence to care for a birth or adoption of a child or to care for a seriously ill family member.
New Jersey Wage and Hour Law, N.J.S.A. 34:11-56a et seq. This law applies to the payment of wages and overtime, and guarantees payment of minimum wage. This act protects employees (not independent contractors) and certain trainees.
New Jersey Child Labor Law, N.J.S.A. 34:2-1 et seq. This law governs the employment of minors under 18 years of age and dictates where minors can work, the number of hours a minor can work, and what types of jobs minors can be asked to perform.
Handicapped, Blind, Deaf Persons Civil Rights Law, N.J.S.A. 10:5-29.1. This act prohibits an employer from denying an otherwise qualified handicapped, blind, or deaf person employment or advancement solely on the basis of their handicap, blindness, or deafness, with certain exceptions.
Developmentally Disabled Rights Act, N.J.S.A. 30:2D-3. This act pertains to individuals who are severely disabled due to mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, spina bifida, and other neurological impairments.
Conscientious Employee Protection Act, N.J.S.A. 34:19-1 et seq. This statute provides protection from retaliatory action to employees who seek to assert their rights under a variety of statutes. It is commonly known as the “whistle blower act,” and its purpose is to encourage employees to report illegal or unethical work place activities and discourage public and private sectors from engaging in such conduct.
New Jersey Worker’s Compensation Statute, N.J.S.A. 34:15-1 et seq. This statute provides benefits to injured employees, regardless of fault, for any disability due to a work related accident or illness. It also protects employees who feel they are being retaliated against because they claim or attempt to claim workers’ compensation benefits.
New Jersey Lie Detector Statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:40A-1. This statute prohibits the use of lie detector tests in the work place with some limited exceptions. Under this statute, an employer can not influence, request, or require an employee to take or submit to a lie detector test as a condition of employment or continued employment.
Right to Know Law, N.J.S.A. 34:5A-17(a). This act requires employers to disclose information about hazardous substances which might endanger the work place.
New Jersey Jury Duty Protection Law, N.J.S.A. 2B:20-16.A private sector employer is prohibited from penalizing or threatening an employee because the employee is required to appear for jury duty.
Alcoholism Treatment and Rehabilitation Act, N.J.S.A. 26:2B-6 et seq. This act provides for the treatment of alcoholics and arguably provides a special protection that mandates that an employer must give an employee a reasonable opportunity at rehabilitation.
New Jersey Smoking Act, N.J.S.A. 26:3D-23 et seq. This act provides the right of a non-smoker to breathe clear air and applies to employers with 50 or more employees.
Workers’ Protections Act, N.J.S.A. 34:6B-1 et seq. This act precludes employers from refusing to hire, terminating, or otherwise discriminating against an employee because either the individual does or does not smoke.
Please read our Employment and Labor Newsletter for more information