Articles Tagged with “New Jersey Employment Lawyers”

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New Jersey whistleblower protection laws protect employees who object to or try to prevent illegal conduct by their employers, be they private sector employers or state or local government employers.  However, while New Jersey employment law gives strong protection to employees, a recent published appellate decision in the case of McVey v. Atlanticare Medical Systems Incorporated makes clear that neither the New Jersey nor Federal constitutions provide free speech protections to employees of privatecourthouse-1223280__340-300x200 sector employers, particularly when that speech violates a company policy or is racist.

Background

Heather McVey was an employee of Atlanticare Medical Systems Incorporated, a private employer.  She was hired as a nurse in 2005.  She was promoted several times, eventually becoming Corporate Director of Customer Service.  She was an at will employee.  She had a Facebook page under a fictitious name, “Jayne Heather,” but used her actual photo for her profile, and listed her employment as “Corporate Director at Atlanticare Regional Medical Center.”

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The Civil Service Commission

The New Jersey Civil Service System is governed by the Civil Service Act and Civil Service Regulations.  Chapter 2 of Title 11A of the Civil Service Act, N.J.S.A. 11A:2-1, et seq., establishes the  New Jersey Civil Service Commission (thestone-judge-778488-m-thumb-240x320-71245-thumb-220x293-71246-thumb-220x293-71247 “Commission”).   The Commission is a department of the executive branch of the New Jersey State Government.  Administratively it is part of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Nonetheless, it operates as an independent agency.  It is free from control of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The Commission has five members.  Three members are required for a forum.  This has led to a backlog of cases when less than three have been appointed.

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Some complain that civil service hinders efficient government.  Managers object that it limits their ability to run their organizations by hiring, firing and imposing discipline as they believe best.  Citizens argue it makes it too hard to get rid of “bad apples.”  Employees believe it makes promotions and transfers too difficult.  Applicants think the system makes it too hard to get hired.  All these criticisms are valid, to a point. megaphone-1480342__340-300x200 However, they miss the mark because they focus on the trees but miss the forest.  Life is a series of tradeoffs; every decision is a cost/benefit analysis.

New Jersey’s Civil Service System was adopted to combat grave problems with state and local government.  New Jersey has a long history of government corruption; it is by no means a new phenomenon.  This history includes a “spoils system” which gave election winners the power to award jobs to their supporters, bribery, favoritism, nepotism, cronyism and discrimination in hiring and keeping government jobs.  It was a disgrace.  New Jersey was – and is – hardly alone in these problems, but New Jersey took it to another level. Without civil service these problems would continue unchecked.  It’s not perfect, but New Jersey is a far better place because of civil service.

In 1908, the early Twentieth Century Progressive Movement led New Jersey to adopt its first civil service laws, and to establish the Civil Service Commission to regulate civil service practices.  Then, in 1947, a constitutional convention was held at Rutgers University, in which a new Constitution was adopted.  The goal of the constitutional convention was to reform many areas of New Jersey’s state and local government.  Article VII, section 1 of the New Jersey Constitution of 1947 provided that:

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In an important New Jersey employment law ruling, the State Supreme Court held that an employer’s decision to terminate or otherwise take action against an employee influenced by the discriminatory bias of a subordinate, rather than the decisionmakers themselves, nonethelessgavel-300x200 violates the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

Background: Meade’s Employment

In the case of Michele Meade vs. the Township of Livingston, the Court explained that Michele Meade was the Township Manger for Livingston Township from 2015 until she was terminated by the Township Council in 2016.  She was the first female Township Manager in Livingston’s history.  She was replaced by a male candidate although there were female candidates, and when her replacement quit he was replaced by another male candidate.

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The Increase

New Jersey’s minimum wage rate is going up again.  The new minimum wage rate during this incremental increase is $13 per hour effective January 1, 2022.stock-photo-20612112-woman-leading-business-team

Background

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New Jersey employment law governs the classification of workers as employees or independent contractors.  The classification is important and fact sensitive.  It has far reaching consequences.  The Appellate Division recently issued a published opinion in imagesCAWQ89PSthe case of East Bay Drywall, LLC vs. the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which examined some of these issues and provides guidance for both employers and employees.

Background

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development administers the New Jersey Unemployment Compensation and Temporary Disability Insurance Laws. It collects revenues from employers and employees to fund these benefits.  However, “employers” only need to make contributions for their “employees,” not for independent contractors.  Therefore, there is an economic incentive for businesses to classify workers as contractors rather than employees.  However, misclassification can trigger severe consequences.

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Some important New Jersey employment law issues were explored in a recent opinion issued by the Appellate Division of the Superior Court concerning the Newsupreme-administrative-court-3565618_960_720-300x200 Jersey Law Against Discrimination in the case of Kazaba versus Randolph Township Board of Education.

The Kazaba Case

Charles Kazaba sued the Randolph Township Board of Education for age discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination in Law Division of the State Superior Court  for allegedly taking discriminatory actions against him because of his age. He was a security for the Board for more than 21 years and had no disciplinary record.  For many years Kazaba was the only security guard, but at some point the Board hired additional, younger security guards with prior law enforcement experience (these were referred to as the “Ram Guards” after the high school’s mascot).  At sixty years of age he was the oldest security guard.  He claimed that his supervisors took a course of or actions favoring the younger Ram Guards and making his job more difficult because he was older.

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A frequent problem in New Jersey employment law occurs when a business offers someone a job without a contract, that person then quits their current employment, the business rescinds the offer, and the employee is left without a job.  There is no contract, so the employee cannot sue for breach of contract.  What can she do?  In an important New Jersey employment law decision, the State Supreme Court ruled in the case of Goldfarb v. Solimine that the employeesignature-3113182__340-300x200 has a viable claim for promissory estoppel and may recover “reliance damages” from the prospective employer based on what she would have made had she not quit in reliance on the promise and stayed at her prior job.  Promissory estoppel is a legal doctrine which provides that a party should be responsible for the consequences when a promisee relied on its promise and suffers damages when the promisor fails to perform.

Background

David Solimine offered Jed Goldfarb a job managing his family’s investment portfolio.  Goldfarb would receive an annual salary of $250,000-$275,000, plus ten to twenty percent of profits made because of his efforts or advice.  Neither the offer nor a contract were ever put in writing.  However, Goldfarb left his current job as a financial analyst (where he had made between $308,000 and $466,000 per year) in reliance on Solomine’s promise of employment.  After Goldfarb quit, Solimine withdrew the offer and Goldfarb found himself unemployed.

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On March 9, 2021, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an important employment law decision on pregnancy discrimination in the case of Delanoy v. Township of Ocean, which confirms the distinct causes of actions that may be brought and how they should be brought under the New Jersey Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“NJPWFA”).

Background

A female police officer for the Township of Ocean brought a pregnancy discrimination case against the Township based on standing operating proceduresdepositphotos_4730220-Happy-pregnancy-thumb-210x315-81786 (“SPOs”) and the Township’s treatment, which she alleged discriminated against her in violation of the NJPWFA and New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”).

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A Federal Appeals Court’s recent precedential decision in the case of Gibbs v. City of Pittsburgh may have profound implications for New Jersey civil service appeals from psychological disqualification of law enforcement officer applicants.

Background

Christopher Gibbs applied to be a police officer with the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Police Department.  He was an honorably discharged Marine and had been accepted for employment with five other law enforcement agencies.  Similar to the practice in New Jersey and as required by Pennsylvania state law,  after he was found otherwise qualified Pittsburgh offered Gibbs an offer of employment conditioned upon passing an examination to determine whether he wascop psychologically fit for the job.  Gibbs had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”).  The examining doctor found him unfit because of his ADHD.  The psychologists conducting the examination ignored the fact that Gibbs’s ADHD was under control, that five other departments had found him psychologically fit, that he had unblemished records as a police officer and a Marine, and they never explained how Gibbs’s ADHD would interfere with his ability to perform his duties as a police officer.

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