Articles Tagged with New Jersey Employment Attorneys

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New Jersey employment law in the public sector incorporates the doctrine of collateral estoppel, which in some cases bars relitigating issues already decided in another forum.  This applies to administrative appeals of employment action.  A New Jersey appellate court7-300x225 recently examined this doctrine in the context of the revocation of a teacher’s teaching certificate after an arbitration on tenure charges in the case of In the Matter of the Revocation of the Certificates of Lesley Etheridege by the State Board of Examiners.  The court extended the reach of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Winters case.


Lesley Etheridege was employed as a teacher by the Passaic County Vocational School District.  She held a New Jersey Department of Education “Teacher of Electronic Technology Certificate of Eligibility” and a “Teacher of Electronic Technology Standard Certificate.”  In 2015, the District filed 23 tenure charges against her with the New Jersey Commissioner of Education, one for inefficiency under the TEACHNJ Act, and 22 for various instances constituting conduct unbecoming a teacher (one of which the District later dismissed).  The Commissioner found that, if true, the allegations would be grounds for termination or reduction in salary and therefore transferred the charges to an arbitrator in accordance with the TEACHNJ Act.  The arbitrator held three days of hearings and sustained the charges, finding that Etheridge had committed conduct unbecoming by “falsifying grades and engaging in inappropriate grading practices; failing to report to teaching assignments; leaving students unattended; leaving the school campus without permission or notification; failing to complete lesson plans; and insubordination by failing to provide lesson plans as directed by her supervisor.” The arbitrator rejecter Etheridge’s argument that the charges were brought because of political affiliation, nepotism, union activity and discrimination.  The arbitrator found that termination was the appropriate remedy for her continued pattern of inappropriate behavior.

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New Jersey Employment Law Protections for Pregnant Employees

New Jersey employment law, as well as Federal employment law, prohibits discrimination against employees because of pregnancy, requires employees to reasonably accommodate employees’ pregnancy, bars retaliation against employees who request accommodations for pregnancy or object to the treatment of pregnant employees, and bars coercion of pregnant employees from being required to acceptkids-300x225 unreasonable or no accommodations or take leave unless medically necessary.

Under New Jersey employment law, the primary statutory protection for pregnant employees is the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.  The main provision of the Law Against Discrimination protecting pregnant employees is N.J.S.A. 10:5-12.  This provision makes it illegal “For an employer, because of… pregnancy or breastfeeding… to refuse to hire or employ or to bar or to discharge from employment or to discriminate against an individual in compensation or in the terms, conditions or provisions of employment.”  This has been held to also bar harassing an employee because of protected traits, such as pregnancy.  These provisions also apply to unions and employment agencies.

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One of the most difficult New Jersey employment law issues confronted by government employees is that they are sometimes drawn into legal action because of actions taken in the course of their employment.  Defending such charges can cause significant expense andsupreme-administrative-court-3565618_960_720-300x200 hardship to government employees.  For teachers, administrators and other public education employees, however, there are two laws which provide for payment of the employee’s attorneys fees and litigation expenses by their board of education in certain criminal, quasi-criminal, administrative and civil legal actions. The Appellate Division examined the question of when an employee must notify their employer and request payment under the two different statutes in a case where the New Jersey State Board of Examiners sought to revoke an employee’s teaching certificate in the case of Maria Azzaro v. the Board of Education of the City of Trenton.

Background: The Order to Show Cause and Administrative Litigation

Maria Azzaro worked for the Trenton Board of Education.  The New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance alleged that while Azzaro was a vice-principal at Trenton Central High School improper practices occurred including misassignment of students, giving students credits for classes they did not attend or attended only sporadically, that certain classes did not meet Department requirements, and that transcripts were falsified so that students could matriculate.  As a result, in 2007, the New Jersey Department of Education, State Board of Examiners served Azzaro with an Order to Show Cause seeking revocation or suspension of her teaching certificate because she allegedly knew of or participated in these practices.

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New Jersey employment law requires that employees must be paid at regular intervals, at least twice per month.  The proposition that employees should be paid for the time that they work does not seem to be illogical.  However, litigation over non-payment of wages is all toous-supreme-court-300x200 common.  The New Jersey Appellate Division recently addressed one of the laws behind this issue in the case of Veronica Villalobos v. Beast Coast Moving Limited Liability Company.


Veronica Vilalobos and Joe Esquijarosa brought suit against their employer, Beast Coast Moving Limited Liability Company, for violation of the New Jersey Wage Payment Law, in the Law Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey, sitting in Bergen County.

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The Appellate Division of New Jersey’s Superior Court recently examined the use of the “Rule of Three” in New Jersey civil service list bypass appeals in the case of In the Matter of Antonio Salters, Fire Fighter, Township of Hillside.


Salters applied to become a firefighter for the Township of Hillside, New Jersey.  He passed the examination and ranked fourth out of forty eligible candidates on an open competitive employment list.  Thirteen candidates on the list were ultimately hired, but the Township exercised the “Rule of Three” to skip Salter on the list.  Salter appealed his bypass to the New Jersey Civil Service Commission.

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It’s a nightmare scenario for an employee.  She has a good job, but has received the opportunity of a lifetime.  She quits her job, moves to a new city, and gets ready to start her new position.  Then, just before she starts, the prospective employer calls and says, “Oops, we’ve changed our minds.  Sorry….”  Now she’s in a new city and maybe a new state, with a new lease or mortgage, and no job.  Does the law provide hercontract-1464917__340-300x200 with any remedy?  Fortunately, New Jersey employment law does provide relief under certain conditions.

Breach of Contract

The employee is in the best position if she received an employment contract.  If she has a written contract, she has the full range of remedies for breach of contract.  This does not mean that the prospective employer does not have defenses – there may be a perfectly good reason for rescinding the offer.  For example, the offer could be for an attorney who was disbarred or a doctor who lost her license to practice medicine.  However, there is a good chance that the contract will provide the employee with a remedy in court.

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Under New Jersey employment law, criminal charges can have a significant impact on government employment beyond the penalties carried by the criminal charges themselves. paterson-pd-andrew-300x211 These effects impact both civil service and non-civil service employees.

Suspensions While Criminal Charges Are Pending

First, a public employee may be suspended while criminal charges are pending.

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New Jersey employment law recognizes the concept of “joint employers.”  Under this legal doctrine, an employee can have two employers even though he only gets paid by one.  The doctrine provides that when more than one entity acts as a person’s employer, both are jointly

responsible for complying with employee protection laws such as the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (known as CEPA or the New Jersey Whistleblower Law).

The Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey explained in the case of Pukowsky v. Caruso that the following factors are to be considered when determining whether the joint employer doctrine should cause a person or business to be a joint employer of an employee for employment law purposes.

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UPDATE: This post was originally published on January 3, 2023.  On May 22, 2023, the Supreme Court of New Jersey granted a writ of certiorari, meaning it will review the Appellate Division’s opinion in this case.  The original post is below.  Stand by for more.


In many areas of New Jersey employment law, the scope of an arbitrator’s powers is a significant question.  This is particularly true in the adjudication of tenure charges against New Jersey teachers and principals.  The Appellate Division of New Jersey’s Superior Court squarely addressed this issue in the recently published decision in the case of Sanjuan v. School District of West New York.

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New Jersey civil service law provides significant protection for employees serving in civil service jurisdictions which other employees, even other government employees who are not inus-supreme-court-300x200 the civil service system, do not enjoy.

Layoffs.  A layoff is the cessation of a permanent employee’s employment for economic reasons or efficiency, triggering the rights and procedures provided by New Jersey civil service law to those affected by layoffs.  Demotions for reasons of economy, efficiency or related reasons are also treated as layoffs. Demotions in the form of reduction in hours are also layoffs.  A civil service employee is entitled to all applicable civil service due process protections if her position does not meet the definition of a layoff. Layoffs cannot be used as discipline. Whether her position is abolished or not, if she is affected by a layoff the Civil Service System gives her significant protections if she is subjected to any employment action for other than economy or efficiency outside a layoff plan approved by the New Jersey Civil Service Commission.

Pre-Layoff Actions, Alternatives.  An employer must try to avoid layoffs, and if that is not possible then to lessen the extent and impact by using pre-layoff actions. Before instituting layoffs, voluntary or involuntary, the employer must consult with the union for the affected employees.  Examples of voluntary alternatives include leaves of absence without pay while keeping seniority; furloughs; reduction of work hours; job sharing; and providing optional temporary demotional titles.

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