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The HR Specialist: New Jersey Employment Law

Employers are liable for the discrimination perpetuated by supervisors unless they can show that, before accepting a supervisor’s termination recommendation, they conducted an independent investigation. Employers that don’t conduct a truly independent investigation—including allowing the subordinate to present his version of events—can still be liable.

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OSHA has ordered Metro North Commuter Rail to pay more than $141,000 to a worker after an investigation concluded that the railroad purposely misclassified the worker’s injury and then denied him a promotion as a result.

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When Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno set out to create the state’s Business Action Center, the aim was to attract as many quality employers to New Jersey as possible. That strategy seems to be bearing fruit.

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Employees who can’t find an attorney to represent them when they sue their employers sometimes decide to represent themselves. This makes for more work for the courts. But judges are beginning to lose pa­­tience.

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Employers can shorten the time employees have to sue by stipulating uniform claims timeframes that cover all disputes. However, you must be very specific about what’s covered.

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Here’s a tip to keep in mind the next time you must terminate an employee: Even if you don’t intend to tell the worker why he is being fired, be sure to carefully document the reasons. That way, if you are challenged later in court, you can point to the contemporaneously produced record as evidence you had a legitimate, business-related reason for your decision.

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Employees who work under genu­­inely intolerable conditions can quit their jobs and still collect un­­em­­ployment compensation. But those situations are rare—and don’t provide cover for overly sensitive workers. Supervisors routinely criticize employees and offer suggestions for improvement. That’s normal and doesn’t constitute harassment.

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What should you do if an em­­ployee has used up all her available FMLA and personal leave and still needs periodic time off? If she has a disability, you may be required to let her take more leave as a reasonable accommodation under both the ADA and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

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The job candidate with the most experience might also be the oldest applicant. But that doesn’t mean you always have to pick him. You can use other factors as long as none of them hints at age discrimination. The key is to maintain impeccable records showing how and why you chose the candidate you did.

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Good news if you have ever worried about a lawsuit from an employee who was passed over for a promotion in favor of someone outside the employee’s protected class. While it’s impossible to guarantee you will never be sued, courts generally look favorably on properly run, fair hiring and promotion processes.

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