When a company hires employees, it is expected to provide a safe and healthy work environment to avoid injury or illness of employees. In addition, both federal and state laws protect employees from many types of harmful actions by employers including discrimination, wrongful termination, and harassment. These actions can not only cause significant emotional harm to an employee, but can also prevent them from having many opportunities that they deserve in the workplace.
At the Maduabum Law Firm, in New Jersey, we take employment law violations very seriously. We work to protect the rights of employees who have been wrongfully harmed and to help them obtain the financial relief they deserve. If you believe your employer has treated you unlawfully, please do not delay in contacting us today to discuss your rights and options.
Many different laws protect employees from certain types of discrimination including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). In NJ, discrimination in the workplace is prohibited based on the following factors:
- Sexual or affectional orientation
- Atypical blood or cellular trait
- Pregnancy or childbirth
- Marital/civil union status
- Gender expression or identity
- Mental or physical disability
- Genetic information
- Military service
- National origin
Unlawful workplace discrimination can happen in many different ways. The following are some examples of discriminatory actions if based on the above factors:
- Less desirable work assignments
- Denial of a pay increase
- Refusal to hire
- Denial of promotion
In addition to the above discriminatory actions, the laws also prohibit an employer from retaliating against an employee for reporting or complaining of unlawful acts. Retaliation can include the above-mentioned acts or any other act deemed to be an adverse employment action. Employees should be free to report wrongful behavior and employers should take the steps necessary to stop and prevent such behavior. If an employer fails to do so or retaliates against an employee, the employee often has the right to take legal action to protect their rights.
New Jersey follows the principle of “at-will” employment, which means either the employer or the employee can end the employment relationship for any reason, so long as there is no employment contract. However, employers are not allowed to terminate an employee for reasons that are discriminatory or that go against public policy. The following are some reasons for termination that are wrongful:
- Objecting to or reporting illegal activities in the workplace
- Going against an employment contract
- For exercising legal rights or duties, such as voting or serving on a jury
- Serving on active duty in the military
- Based on any of the protected discrimination factors
- In retaliation for reporting discriminatory behavior
- Taking Family or Medical Leave (FMLA) time
- Making a workers’ compensation claim
If you believe you were fired for an unlawful reason, you may be able to have your position reinstated (if you choose) as well as recover for all wages and benefits you lost as a result of the termination.
Hostile Work Environment
A “hostile work environment” is an employment law term that is associated with unlawful harassment in the workplace. While sexual harassment is the most common type of unlawful harassment, harassment is also prohibited if it is based on race, religion, or any of the protected factors. It is important to note that any annoying or possibly disturbing actions may not automatically rise to the level of unlawful harassment. Instead, the behavior must create a “hostile work environment” for an employee to have the right to take legal action. A hostile work environment can arise in one of two ways:
- The behavior is pervasive or severe enough that any reasonable employee would find it to be abusive or hostile
- Subjecting yourself to the behavior is necessary to continue to your employment (i.e. your boss makes an unwanted sexual advance and threatens your job if you do not comply)
If you believe you are being unlawfully harassed, an experienced employment law attorney at our office can evaluate your situation to determine whether a hostile workplace environment exists.
Call for a Consultation with our NJ Employment Lawyers Today
At the Maduabum Law Firm, LLC, we offer many different employee services and can fight for employee rights in many ways. If you may have been the victim of employee discrimination, harassment, or wrongful termination, please contact our experienced employment law attorneys as soon as possible to discuss your case.