The HR Specialist: New Jersey Employment Law

You may be naturally disinclined to rehire a former employee who was off work for years because of an on-the-job injury. But that could be a big legal mistake, especially since he is now disabled.

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Three health care-related firms and the American operation of a luxury car manufacturer comprise the four New Jersey firms named to Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

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The cardinal rule for employers is to punish like offenses the same way. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have some flexibility. For example, when two employees break the same rule, the underlying reasons might be considerably different. If you decide to punish one more severely than the other, document why you don’t consider the circumstances the same.

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Never ignore sexual harassment complaints. Instead, take quick action against insensitive, rude or crude co-workers. That goes a long way toward showing a court that you take harassment seriously and want it to end.

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When OSHA said it had received an anonymous complaint about safety conditions at one of Brocon Petroleum’s work sites, executives there had a pretty good idea who made the call. So the Freehold-based company fired the employee. OSHA did not take it well …

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Three lawsuits filed against Harrah’s Atlantic City casino allege the employer actively covered up sexual harassment by casino employees. Harrah’s is already fighting 13 lawsuits filed against fired manager Raymond Montgomery, who ran a casino nightclub called “The Pool.”

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Sometimes employees believe that reporting potential wrongdoing by their employers or fellow employees means they can’t be punished. In effect, the assumption is that being a whistle-blower gives them a pass and protects them from adverse employment actions, such as termination. That’s simply not true.

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If an employer decides to deny a fringe benefit to an employee, and the employee challenges the decision, courts must at least consider the possibility that a conflict of interest exists. That’s because anytime an employer decides to provide a benefit, that benefit comes at a cost.

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Simply having an anti-harassment policy isn’t enough. Employers have to use it when faced with a violation. When you do, make sure you document what you did to remedy the problem.

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Change your policy now if you automatically terminate employees who use up their FMLA leave and can’t yet to return to work without restrictions. That’s because the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination requires employers to start an interactive accommodations process when they learn an employee may be disabled.

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