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Newark Litigation and Appeals Law Blog

What is Wrongful Termination?

Many people who have been fired from their job may wonder whether the action constituted "wrongful termination." While each state has a different set of laws, many of these laws coincide. New Jersey, for instance, is like other at-will employment states. This means that either the employer or the employee may sever their relationship at any time and for almost any reason. This doesn't mean, however, that it's not possible to file a wrongful termination suit in the state.

While individuals in at-will employment states have fewer options when it comes to wrongful termination cases, some options do exist. If an employer fires a worker based on discriminatory practices, such as making their decision based on race, sex, age, color or any other federally protected characteristic, the terminated employee can file a claim for wrongful termination.

Tipped wage may lead to harassment

As New Jersey food servers know, tips are an important way of increasing their hourly income. The tipped minimum wage in many states is $2.13 per hour. Even though employers must make up the difference between this amount and the minimum wage, getting good tips may put the food server in a position to endure sexual harassment on the job.

According to a report by a restaurant workers' rights group, only a small fraction of women work in the industry, but they account for 37 percent of sexual harassment complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Categories protected from job-related discrimination

According to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, employers are prohibited from discriminating against individuals on the basis of several different protected categories. Some of the protected categories include national origin, race, color, ancestry and nationality. An employer is also barred from discriminating during job-related actions on the basis of characteristics like civil union status, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation and gender expression.

Further, the New Jersey law protects people with mental or physical disabilities including illnesses from being subject to discrimination in the workplace. An employer is also prohibited from denying employment or promotion to a person because they are pregnant. People with certain hereditary cellular or blood traits are similarly protected from discrimination in the workplace.

At-will employment and exceptions to the rule

Since the 1800s, states have practiced the concept of at-will employment. This is based on employers and employees being on equal footing in terms of bargaining power. In practice, however, the courts recognize that as employment positions and employees' skills become more specialized, it becomes more difficult for them to find new jobs if their employment is terminated. Because of this, many states, including New Jersey, have made exceptions to at-will employment policies.

There are three types of exceptions, and New Jersey has two of these. Implied contract exceptions refer to employers providing oral or written implications of job security even if no contract exists. Under public-policy exceptions, employers wrongfully terminate employment if the reason for the termination is against the policy of the state. The first state to adopt public-policy exceptions was California when an employee was fired for not committing perjury when he was called to testify in court regarding his employer's unlawful actions.

Determining a lawyer's competency in New Jersey

New Jersey residents who believe that their attorney did not adequately protect their legal interests in a case may have the option to file a legal malpractice claim. Such a claim can be filed for various reasons. For instance, if repeated attempts of communication with the attorney have yielded no results, then that may constitute grounds for legal malpractice. However, if there is a valid reason why an attorney did not contact a client, the issue could be resolved without resorting to litigation.

Each state requires that attorneys are able to do their job at a basic competent level. In the event that a legal professional has not competently performed his or her duties to a client, a complaint may be filed with either the state supreme court or bar association. Examples of incompetence may include inappropriately allocating a client's funds, failing to show up to a court hearing or providing false information to a judge or jury. Additionally, if an attorney has engaged in criminal conduct or failed to adequately know the law, these may also be considered indications of incompetence.

Understanding workplace sexual harassment

Most New Jersey employees know that they are protected against sexual harassment in the workplace, but there may be some confusion about the specifics of state and federal law concerning this issue. The Civil Rights Division of the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety defines sexual harassment as a form of sexual discrimination where a person behaves in an unwanted behavior toward another person. Employees may benefit from learning about how this law applies to the workplace and the steps to seek remedy for violations.

Employers are required to institute policies that protect all of their employees, even temporary or casual ones, from sexual harassment. The may include a harassment reporting policy, prevention training or even steps for an employee to take when confronted with harassment from a customer. When this type of sexual discrimination occurs, an employer failing to address it is in violation of the law.

Tenant indicates plans to move from "Real Housewives" mansion

A Montville man has announced his plans to stop fighting a "Real Housewives of New Jersey" star from whom he has been renting a mansion. The real estate dispute was related to an attempt by the owner to evict the man due to breach of contract claims. The man was accused of not following through on an agreement to purchase the property for a reported price of $3.8 million.

The owner of the property sued the man, and a Superior Court judge ruled on September 3 in favor of the owner. As a result, the tenant was ordered to pay nearly $31,000 to avoid eviction. The man has indicated that he will move out of the mansion shortly, noting that he has located another property. He also noted that his attorney had been given terms for arranging a settlement related to termination of the housing agreement in the current residence.

Information and representation in employment disputes

New Jersey employment issues could affect both employees and employers, and it is important to have the assistance of someone with a proper perspective in facing litigation or filing a claim. Contracts, statutes and other issues can come into play as a situation is explored, and an understanding of employment law is critical for appropriate representation to be provided. In any legal case, both parties could be greatly affected by the outcome.

Employee issues that may be addressed through legal representation may range from discrimination claims to harassment concerns. In some cases, legal action might not be warranted if proper channels are pursued for reporting issues in your work setting. However, you may find that a situation continues to be problematic in spite of using the prescribed protocols for making a report about a concern. In that event, addressing the situation may require strong action such as litigation. Even if legal action is not necessary, reliable advice from an experienced lawyer may help to clarify the proper approach to seeking a remedy.

New Jersey judiciary employees claim sexual harassment in suit

The offices of the judiciary courts in New Jersey run just like any other business would. This means that anything that happens at other companies, including sexual harassment, can happen there. Case in point: a recent lawsuit alleges workplace sexual harassment by two former judiciary employees from Monmouth County.

The two workers, both female, claim that their former supervisor, a female court administrator, created a toxic atmosphere that made it impossible for them to stay. According to their reports, their workdays were filled with their boss talking about sexually explicit topics and sending emails with links to pornographic sites. She also allegedly spoke freely about subject matter inappropriate for public conversations, including feminine hygiene.

New Jersey breach of contract claims part of Sandy legacy

When Superstorm Sandy hit the coastal towns of New Jersey in 2012, the short-term damage was apparent and widespread. However, it would seem to have a more long-lasting impact than might be expected, judging by breach of contract claims reports. One of those breach of contract claims is between a Carlstadt-based printing company and its insurer.

The printing company, which has thus far received $1.25 million in insurance monies to cover damage and debris cleanup, believes that its insurance company actually owes more than $35 million more to cover additional problems that were related to electrical surges, not flooding. The company's representatives have said that their work with a third party indicated that power surges that happened prior to water damage caused issues with the performance of some of their printing machines. Now, those machines are still reportedly not operating.

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