Articles Posted in New Jersey Labor Law

Federal and state laws limit where someone may file a lawsuit. The court must have the legal authority to hear the case and issue rulings affecting the defendant, known as jurisdiction. The location of the court, known as the venue, must have some connection to the events of the case or either of the parties. In many lawsuits, determining jurisdiction and venue is easy, such as when both parties are located in the same vicinity. New Jersey employment laws apply to employees, employers, and events in New Jersey. It can be more complicated when the events or the parties’ locations cross county or state lines. A recent decision by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, for example, addressed an employment discrimination and retaliation lawsuit that involved events in both New Jersey and Connecticut.

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) bars New Jersey employers from discriminating against employees and job seekers on the basis of a wide range of factors. These include race, religion, sex, disability, and sexual orientation. The statute also prohibits retaliation by employers against employees who report unlawful acts, assist in investigations, or engage in other protected activities. At the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has similar provisions, although its protections against workplace discrimination are not as broad.

Both of these statutes provide guidance on where employees may file a lawsuit. Title VII states that an individual may file a lawsuit in U.S. district court in the district where:
– The alleged violation occurred;
– Relevant employment records are located;
– The individual would have worked had the unlawful act not occurred; or
– The employer’s main office is located.
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The legal status of cannabis has gone through a number of changes in recent years, at least at the state level. Cannabis remains illegal under federal law. Medical use of cannabis has been legal under New Jersey law, however, for over a decade. A state law allowing limited possession and use for recreational purposes took effect in 2021. These changes impact New Jersey employment laws with regard to issues like mandatory drug testing, drug-free workplaces, and the use of a now-legal substance by employees outside of work hours. In October 2022, the White House announced that the president would be issuing pardons for people with federal convictions for simple cannabis possession. This raises questions about how New Jersey and federal laws relating to the use of criminal history in employment decisions will affect pardoned workers.

New Jersey Criminal History Discrimination

Criminal history is not a protected category under federal or state employment discrimination laws. Workers who have arrest or conviction records do, however, have some protection during the job application process. Many employers have tried to screen applicants with criminal records, even if an applicant’s particular history would have no bearing on the job they are seeking. This makes it all but impossible for thousands of people to find work.

Under the Opportunity to Compete Act (OTCA), New Jersey employers may not ask job applicants about criminal history at the beginning of the hiring process. The statute allows employers to make inquiries about criminal history once an applicant has completed an initial interview. Exceptions apply for certain jobs, such as law enforcement or professions where another state or federal law requires a criminal background check.
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Remote work has become common for many workers in New Jersey and around the country. The COVID-19 pandemic may have caused a transition that was already underway to speed up. The increasing amount of remote work, however, raises legal questions that might not have easy answers. When an employee who lives in New Jersey works from home for their New Jersey-based employer, it is clear that New Jersey employment laws apply to them. What happens, though, when an employee works from their New Jersey home for an employer in another state? Determining which state’s laws should apply has proven to be difficult.

The question of which state’s law applies when a work-from-home arrangement crosses state lines has no simple answer. The legal system has only begun to address it. State employment laws can significantly differ from one state to another. New Jersey offers wide-ranging protections against employment discrimination, for example, with far more protected categories than many other state laws. The state government has issued regulations allowing employers with virtual workers to make posters advising employees of their rights available online. Many other questions remain unanswered.

At least one New Jersey court has ruled on how state law applies to state residents who work outside the state. A 2013 federal court decision held that the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) did not cover a New Jersey resident who worked out-of-state. The plaintiff lived in New Jersey. His employer, however, was based in Pennsylvania, and almost all of the plaintiff’s job duties occurred there. The plaintiff, who was alleging discrimination and harassment, argued that the NJLAD should apply since he received harassing messages via text and email while at home in New Jersey. The court disagreed.
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Children working in dangerous jobs are a common feature in many famous photographs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Child labor was common in mines, factories, and other hazardous workplaces until the 1930s when the U.S. Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). That law sets strict limits on employment for minors, including the kinds of jobs they may have and the number of hours they may work. New Jersey employment laws also regulate the hours that minors may work. The New Jersey Attorney General (NJAG) recently announced that it had settled a dispute with a restaurant chain over alleged child labor law violations. As part of the settlement, the employer reportedly agreed to pay $7.75 million in damages and fines.

The FLSA’s provisions on child labor prohibit anyone under the age of 14 from working in most jobs. Exceptions may apply with regard to jobs in agriculture, jobs within one’s family, newspaper delivery, and acting for film or television. The original purpose of the FLSA was to prevent children from working long hours in dangerous conditions. Children who are 14 or 15 years old may work limited hours in certain jobs. Between the ages of 16 and 17, the FLSA allows children to work in non-hazardous jobs for a longer number of hours.

Despite many advances in this area, child labor remains an issue throughout the country. A report on children’s rights by the organization Human Rights Watch assigned a letter grade from “A” to “F” to each state based on multiple factors, including child labor laws. While New Jersey received one of the highest grades in the country, it was still only a “C.”

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Since New Jersey is an “at-will employment” state, employers can terminate employees for any reason, or for no reason at all, as long as they do not violate local, state, or federal law. The good news for workers is that New Jersey employment laws provide numerous protections against termination for certain reasons and in certain ways. An employer cannot fire someone primarily because of factors like race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, and others. They cannot terminate an employee in retaliation for protected activities like whistleblowing. Both federal and New Jersey employment laws set limits on mass layoffs. The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires advance notice of large-scale layoffs. New Jersey also has a WARN Act (NJWARN) that provides workers with additional rights. The WARN Act has been in the news recently. A major tech company is facing several class actions under state and federal WARN Acts because of mass layoffs.

The federal WARN Act applies to employers who meet one of the following criteria:
– They have at least one hundred full-time employees; or
– They have one hundred or more full- or part-time employees who collectively work at least 4,000 hours per week.
The NJWARN Act is slightly different. It applies to employers that have been in business for more than three years and have at least one hundred employees.

Both laws require employers to give notice at least sixty days in advance of mass layoffs that will result in five hundred or more employees losing their jobs in a thirty-day period. The WARN Act requires notice to all affected employees or their union. The NJWARN requires employers to give notice to both the employees and their union.
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Federal labor law protects workers’ rights to organize themselves in order to engage in collective bargaining and advocate for their interests. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) identifies these rights and prohibits employers from interfering with employees who are engaged in protected activities. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) adjudicates allegations of unlawful actions by employers and labor unions. Recently, a panel of the NLRB in New Jersey ruled in a case that alleged numerous NLRA violations by an employer, including refusing to negotiate with its employees’ authorized representative and firing multiple employees because of their union activities. An administrative law judge (ALJ) found that the employer violated multiple provisions of the NLRA. The NLRB panel affirmed the ruling, with some modifications. If you are involved in a labor dispute, contact a New Jersey employment lawyer today to learn more about your rights.

Workers have the right to “self-organization” under the NLRA. They may engage in activities directed towards organizing themselves to join or form a union, along with other activities related to “collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” Section 8(a) of the statute identifies prohibited “unfair labor practices by employer[s].” These include interfering with protected activities by employees, discriminating on the basis of union membership or organizing activities, and refusing to participate in collective bargaining with authorized union representatives. Workers may report alleged violations to the NLRB.

The employer in the recent NLRB decision operates a hotel in North Bergen, New Jersey. According to the ALJ’s opinion, it entered into a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with its employees’ union in 2011. The CBA expired in 2015, but the employer and the union had not been able to agree to a new CBA. As of the date of the ALJ’s ruling in late 2021, the 2011 CBA remained the most recent agreement between the two.
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Federal law protects workers’ rights to organize themselves and engage in collective bargaining with their employers. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prohibits employers from interfering with these rights. It also authorizes the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to investigate alleged violations, rule on complaints, and award remedies like back pay and reinstatement to employees. The NLRB recently issued a ruling in an ongoing New Jersey employment dispute. The employer had raised objections to various details of an order awarding back pay to several former employees. The NLRB’s ruling generally goes in the employees’ favor.

Section 8(a) of the NLRA prohibits “unfair labor practices” by employers, such as interfering with protected activities described in § 7 or discriminating against employees on the basis of their involvement in protected activities. The NLRB has the authority under § 10 “​​to prevent any person from engaging in any unfair labor practice…affecting commerce.” It may serve complaints on employers based on charges received from workers, and conduct proceedings to determine whether an employer has violated the NLRA. Remedies may include reinstatement of any employee who was not dismissed for cause, along with back pay.

The case that was recently before the NLRB began with charges filed by several employees of a New Jersey nursing center in 2011 and 2012. The employees, who are licensed practical nurses (LPNs), alleged that the employer retaliated against them for their union-related activities by eliminating LPN positions and replacing them with other nurses. In 2016, the NLRB ruled that the employer’s actions violated § 8(a). It ordered the employer to offer reinstatement to the employees and awarded them back pay. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the order in 2018.
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The right of workers to organize and bargain collectively with employers has led to many important reforms in workplace safety and working conditions. Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in the 1930s to protect these rights. The law created the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to adjudicate complaints about interference with organizing activities and other unlawful acts. In 2020, the NLRB ruled in favor of three former employees of a New Jersey bakery production plant who alleged that their employer wrongfully terminated them because of their union activities, along with other alleged NLRA violations. After an appellate court affirmed the ruling, the NLRB pursued an enforcement action against the employer. This resulted in an award of $2.3 million in damages for the three employees. If you have questions or concerns about organizing or collective bargaining in the workplace, reach out to a New Jersey employment lawyer as soon as possible.

The NLRA protects workers’ rights to organize themselves, either by joining an existing labor union or forming a new one, and to engage in collective bargaining and other “concerted activities” related to organizing or protection. Section 8 of the statute prohibits a variety of actions by both employers and unions. Employers may not interfere with employees’ protected activities, nor may they discriminate or retaliate on the basis of union activities. Once employees have chosen representatives to bargain collectively on their behalf, the employer may not refuse to engage with them.

The three complainants in the NLRB action worked at a plant in Fair Lawn, New Jersey as floor helpers and icing mixers. The plant produces cookies and crackers for a major brand. The complainants had been involved with the union for multiple years. The union, according to the decision from the administrative law judge (ALJ), has been the exclusive representative for plant workers since 1958.
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Labor unions have helped workers achieve significant improvements in pay and working conditions in New Jersey and across the county by enabling them to bargain collectively with their employers. Instead of each individual employee negotiating with their employer, employees can pool their resources and present a united front. Union membership has fallen over the past few decades for a variety of reasons, but this might be changing. As people return to the workforce after the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, workers are asserting their rights to fair pay, safe work environments, and more. Employees of a major online retailer on Staten Island, for example, voted to unionize in early April 2022. While their employer is contesting the vote, the impact is already spreading to other workplaces, including many workers in New Jersey who have said they plan on holding votes to unionize. If you feel you have been subjected to unlawful practices in the workplace in violation of state or federal law, please contact a New Jersey employment lawyer today.

Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects workers’ rights to engage in activities related to union organizing and collective bargaining. It also protects the rights of workers who do not want to join a union to refrain from these types of activities. Section 8(a) of the statute states that employers may not interfere with union organizing activities. In § 8(b), the statute prohibits unions from “restrain[ing] or coerc[ing]” employees with regard to organizing or membership. Section 9 establishes procedures for employees to vote on forming a union or joining an existing union, and for a union to become the employees’ official representative.

Collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) that require employers to hire union members, known as “closed shop” agreements, are invalid under the NLRA. Some states, known as “right-to-work” states, also prohibit “union shop” agreements, which require employees to join the union once they have been hired. At least twenty-eight states have some form of right-to-work laws as of early 2022. New Jersey is not among them. A CBA between a union and an employer in New Jersey may require union membership. This type of CBA addresses the “free rider” problem, in which employees who are not union members still benefit from the union’s work.
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The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects employees’ right to organize for the purpose of collective bargaining with their employers. They may do this by forming their own union, or by joining an existing union. Employers may not interfere with employees’ organizing activities. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is responsible for enforcing the law. One part of the agency investigates complaints from workers about alleged violations. Another adjudicates those complaints. Region 22 of the NLRB, based in Newark, New Jersey, filed a complaint against a hospital in late 2021 for alleged NLRA violations. The NLRB’s description of the complaint outlines several examples of conduct prohibited by the statute. If efforts to organize at your workplace for the purposes of collective bargaining are being interfered with, reach out to a New Jersey employment attorney to learn more about your rights.

Section 7 of the NLRA states that employees may engage in activities related to organizing and collective bargaining, as well as “concerted activities for the purpose of…mutual aid or protection”. Employees also have the right to refrain from these activities. Section 8(a) of the statute prohibits various acts by employers, including:
– “[I]nterfer[ing] with…or coerc[ing] employees” with regard to their rights under § 7;
– Interfering with the creation or operation of a labor union;
– Attempting to discourage or encourage union membership among employees, with some exceptions;
– Firing an employee or retaliating against them in other ways for filing a complaint or cooperating with an NLRB proceeding; or
– Refusing to engage in collective bargaining with the employees’ authorized representative.

The NLRB may conduct a hearing to adjudicate a complaint alleging violations of § 8. If it finds that an employer has engaged in unlawful activity, it can award damages to an employee such as back pay. It can also order the employer to reinstate the employee and expunge their records of any unlawful disciplinary actions.
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