The HR Specialist: New Jersey Employment Law, Author at Business Management Daily — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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The HR Specialist: New Jersey Employment Law

Here’s an important reminder for HR professionals handling em­­ployee discipline: If the disciplinary process is well under way—and you believe that the proposed discipline is fair, reasonable and based on facts—there’s no need to stop the process just because the employee files an internal discrimination complaint.

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Managers may think it’s safe to underpay employees by having them work off the clock or shaving time off their overtime tab because no one has complained. But it takes just one short-term employee to get the lawsuit ball rolling. Before you know it, you will be facing an FLSA and New Jersey Wage and Hour Law class-action suit.

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In HR, sometimes one just has to wait while disputes run their course—like when a terminated employee sues over claims that clearly have no basis in reality. You can’t ignore such a lawsuit, but you should push your attorney right away to resolve the situation.

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The owner of a coffee shop next door to Camden’s City Hall has flat-out refused to pay a $75,000 settlement intended to resolve six sexual harassment complaints filed by women who once worked there. City Coffee owner Robert Ford says he never signed a settlement agreement—and doesn’t plan to.

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A Morris County jury has awarded $1.38 million to former Warren Township prosecutor Michelle D’Onofrio, who was fired in 2007 after accusing a local judge of misconduct.

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Employees who have lost their jobs have very little to lose and everything to gain by suing their former employers. Your best defense when firing: Al­­ways carefully document a performance-related reason for the termination. That will trump all but the most egregious cases of supervisory expressions of bigotry.

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Employees with excellent performance records often head straight to HR the first time they face disciplinary action. And you’re right to worry enough to take a careful look at whether the proposed discipline is warranted. It’s possible that a boss’s prejudice may have motivated the discipline.

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It’s certainly possible to terminate an employee who returns from FMLA leave—if you have good reasons un­­related to the FMLA.

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Employees who fear they’re facing disciplinary action may quit. Then they argue that they would have been fired and quit preemptively, so they’re eligible for unemployment compensation. But if the employer can show there really was no good reason for the employee to think her job was in danger, then the employee can’t receive unemployment.

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When faced with a reduction in force, employees who are out on FMLA leave don’t enjoy greater protection than other employees. For example, being on maternity leave does not exclude an employee from being considered for the RIF. That would give those on FMLA leave rights above and beyond those of other employees.

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Hiring rules that end up excluding many applicants who belong to a protected class can spell big trou­ble. That’s because if the rule has a disparate impact on any particular protected class, it may be invalid and could become the basis for a lawsuit. At a minimum, be prepared to show that the rule is based on business necessity.

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It’s all in the timing: An employee may have a case if her request for FMLA leave is suddenly followed by a reorganization that results in the loss of her job.

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An employee at a Rockaway Dunkin’ Donuts faces prostitution charges after local police caught her supplementing her income by providing additional services. Police had re­­ceived an anonymous tip that the woman was making late-night trips to Dunkin’ Donuts a little sweeter for some patrons.

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Good news for employers vexed by employees’ repetitious and frivolous lawsuits: If a trial court does a good job explaining why a case should be dismissed, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals probably won’t grant an appeal.

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You won’t find many employers extolling the upsides of having a unionized workforce, but there is one advantage. If your union contract provides for a probationary period before an employee becomes a permanent part of your workforce, you may have more discretion in how you discipline the new em­­ployee.

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Employees who quit their jobs aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation benefits unless they legitimately believe they had no choice but to resign. But if an employer makes a genuine effort to help the employee stay and he turns down that offer, he may lose eligibility for unemployment.

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New Jersey and its public employees will pay more for health insurance coverage next year. Rates for 2012 health insurance plans will rise by an average of 9% for active state employees, 3% for retirees and a whopping 10.3% for municipal employees.

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OSHA has cited A-Absolute Construction, based in Roselle, for numerous violations at a Parsippany worksite. OSHA has had its eye on A-Absolute since 2008 when a trench collapse trapped a worker.

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A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order that prohibits a New Jersey hospital from forcing 12 nurses to participate in training or services related to abortions.

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Do you have a zero-tolerance rule against employees who use or possess illegal drugs at work? If you don’t apply it to all employees who break the rule, you will be sued.

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