Category Archives: Employment Law

What is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

Enacted on July 2, 1964, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Under the Civil Rights Act, voter registration requirements were relaxed, and racial segregation of schools, public facilities, and the workplace was ended. The effects of this act have far-reaching implications to this day. A skilled New Jersey employment attorney can help you understand how this legislature may apply to you.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act – Equal Opportunity Employment

Under Title VII, an employer is forbidden from discriminating against an employee on the basis of sex, national origin, disability, age, or race when hiring, promoting, or firing. The bill also created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to help with implementation of the law.

Specifically, the bill provides protection against:

  • Discrimination in compensation – Race, sex, religion, color, or national origin cannot form the basis for differences in pay, benefits, assignments, or evaluations.
  • Discrimination in recruiting, hiring, and advancement – The requirements of a job must be uniformly applied and cannot exclude any racial group or color.
  • Harassment – Offensive verbal and physical conduct is prohibited.
  • Hostile work environments – Employers must take steps to prevent and correct harassment and avoid escalation.
  • Retaliation – Employees are protected from retaliation should they file charges against their employers.

Understanding your rights under the Civil Rights Act may seem daunting, but the experienced attorneys at NJ employment law firm Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C. are available to help. Contact us today online or at (908) 561-5577.

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Rutgers Quietly Settles Two Whistleblower Cases

When the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers University merged, Rutgers inherited the legal problems that faced the medical school. Last month, Rutgers settled the last of two high-profile cases that highlighted the rights of whistleblowers. Both of these lawsuits charged UMDNJ with wrongful termination following accusations of fraud and illegal bidding practices. In total, New Jersey whistleblower discrimination attorneys won almost $2 million for the two former employees.

In 2014, Rutgers reached a $700,000 settlement with Eileen Casey. Ms. Casey was a purchasing official with UMDNJ who claimed that she was wrongfully terminated after she discovered that millions of dollars worth of telecommunications contracts were being awarded without public bids.

In the second case, Edward Burke, former chief financial officer of UMDNJ’s University Hospital in Newark, claimed he was terminated after he accused top UMDNJ administrators of defrauding Medicaid. In early April, Rutgers settled with Mr. Burke for $1.2 million.

Although Rutgers has imposed tight restrictions on the disclosure of terms of the settlements through attorneys in the cases, the details of both settlements are available through the Open Public Records Act.

Are whistleblowers protected under New Jersey law?

Under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), employees who report illegal or unethical behavior at their workplace are protected from retaliatory actions. In other words, if you report such illegal practices as discrimination or fraud, or refuse to participate in fraud or illegal behaviors at work, you cannot be fired, demoted, or face other negative consequences.

Examples of fraud might include misrepresentation to, any shareholder, investor, client, patient, customer, employee, former employee, retiree or pensioner of the employer or any governmental entity.

Additionally, the law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who participate in investigations or legal cases involving illegal actions taken at the company.

Whistleblowers should not be afraid to speak up if they witness wrongdoing at work. A skilled New Jersey whistleblower discrimination attorney can inform you of your rights and help you understand what you should do if you are a witness to misconduct. For more information, contact Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C. online or at (908) 561-5577.

 

 

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Misclassification of Employees

1099 Contractors versus W2 Employees

The 1099 form and the W2 are two types of tax forms. The form you should fill out depends on the type of employee you are – contract or full time. A New Jersey employment law attorney can help you understand which form is right for your specific circumstance.

The W2 tax form is for full time employees. It automatically deducts payroll taxes from the paycheck and sends them directly to the government through your employer.  W2 employees typically receive benefits such as health care packages, pension plans, unemployment insurance, and paid time off.

The 1099 form is for independent contracts or freelance workers. Contract workers are responsible for their own payroll taxes. They are also responsible for their own health care.

Employers may have financial benefits to hiring more contract employees instead of full-time staff. They are not required to provide benefits for contractors, and many contractors work off site and provide their own equipment. In general, you are a contractor if you have direct and total control over how your work is accomplished.

Have I been misclassified as an independent contract?

Problems arise when employers take advantage of their employees and misclassify them as contractors to avoid providing expensive benefits for them, when in fact they are working as full-time employees. If you are an independent contractor, you might:

If your boss determines such aspects of your employment as how you perform your job, what hours you work, what location you work in, what equipment you use, and more.

If you are unsure of your status or feel that your employer is taking advantage of you, contact a knowledgeable New Jersey employment law attorney at Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C. online or at (908) 561-5577.

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Filing A Claim Against The Government

Dealing with the government is almost never easy, even under ideal circumstances. It is also a chore that becomes infinitely more difficult when you have been injured and are trying to file a claim against the government to recover compensation. The fact is that there are significant differences in liability between public and private entities, differences that must be understood and carefully researched on a case-by-case basis.

At Aiello Harris, we represent families and individuals in Somerset County, Union County, Middlesex County, Hunterdon County, Essex County, Morris County, and throughout New Jersey in bringing lawsuits against the government. These cases can be very complex and difficult to pursue and there are several important things you should be aware of.

The Process: What You Should Know

Local, county, and state liability in New Jersey is governed by a maze of unique rules and it is the New Jersey Tort Claims Act that defines the liabilities governmental entities have. One very important thing to know about this legislation is that a public entity will only be liable when the State legislature has passed a statute allowing liability for the act in question.

To file a claim against a state agency or local government entity, a Notice of Tort Claim must be submitted to the proper department of the entity within 90 days of the accrual of the cause of action (i.e., in almost every case within 90 days of the date of the government claims attorneys/incident). If the claim is not filed within 90 days, with few exceptions, it is barred by law.

The 90-day limit to file a claim applies to all claims for damages against government entities and will usually apply even if you are unaware that a potential defendant is a governmental entity. The claim must present the basis or facts upon which you believe the government entity owes you monetary damages. It must also explain any injuries you have sustained and the names of any public entity employees or agents you feel are responsible for your injuries.

The filing a Notice of Tort Claim does not relieve the injured person from still having to file a complaint for personal injury. The New Jersey Tort Claims Act also requires that the person injured sustain a permanent injury as defined under the statute and relevant court decisions.

Summary

Because of the unique rules and requirements involved in filing a claim against the government, hiring an attorney who can easily maneuver through the twists and turns of the legal system as well as the bureaucratic red tape and government attorneys, can make a significant difference in the success of your claim. Our firm has the kind of knowledge, experience, resources, and most importantly, the determination to prevail that produces outstanding results.

For a free initial consultation and answers to your questions about how to file a claim against the government, call Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C. at (908) 561-5577 or contact us online at any of our New Jersey law offices.

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What Do I Need to Show To Prove My Age Discrimination Case in NJ?

Were you terminated or otherwise treated unfairly at your job due to your age? In New Jersey, discriminating against workers because they are too young or too old is illegal. Federal laws, in addition to the New Jersey law Against Discrimination (LAD), allow you to pursue legal action if your rights have been violated. But what evidence do you need to show to prove your case? Our NJ age discrimination lawyers explain the basics of filing a valid claim in New Jersey.

Age discrimination and your prima facie case

Prima facie refers to the bare minimum a plaintiff (you) must present in a lawsuit. Generally, in civil law, it refers to the presentation of sufficient evidence to support your legal claim. In other words, you need to show the court enough proof that you actually grounds for a lawsuit.

Since age discrimination is difficult to prove via direct evidence, most courts allow plaintiffs to rely on a burden shifting method of proof.  In short, you can present a prima facie case and then the burden of proof shifts to the employer to show that you were not discriminated against.

Prima Facie Evidence

In an age discrimination lawsuit, your prima facie case and prima facie evidence should prove:

  • you belong to a protected class;
  • you were fired, demoted  or not promoted to a job  for which you were qualified and for which the employer was seeking applicants;
  • you were rejected for the position despite your qualifications;
  • the position remained open after your rejection and the employer continued to seek applications from other people with similar qualifications to the plaintiff, or hired someone younger or older than you

According to federal law, being a member of a “protected class” under age discrimination laws means being over the age of 40. However, under New Jersey LAD statutes, you can be almost any age — however, you may not have a valid claim if you are under 18 or over the age of 70.

Examples of evidence you might use

The hardest part of making your case is proving that age was in factor in your employer’s (or potential employer’s) employment decision.  In a more straight-forward case, you would submit direct evidence but in an age discrimination case, you might need to rely on indirect evidence.

How exactly do you convince a court that your claim is valid? Here’s some documentation and testimony you might need:

  • Job performance records
  • Human Resources files
  • Witness testimony
  • Statistics showing either younger or older employees had been hired or received certain benefits

Our NJ employment law lawyers at Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C. understand filing a lawsuit is overwhelming and confusing. Let us handle everything. Call today at (908) 561-5577 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

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How NJ Wrongful Termination Laws Protect You as an Employee

In today’s unstable economic client, jobs come and go much more rapidly than ever before. But what if you lost your job under illegal circumstances? There are laws in New Jersey designed to protect employees from being unfairly terminated. Each situation is unique — if you fear you have been a victim of wrongful termination, consult an NJ lawyer with the know-how to effectively evaluate your case. You might be entitled to compensation for wrongful termination.

What does it mean to work “at-will”?

In New Jersey, most employees work “at-will.” This means you can be fired at any time for any reason — or for no reason at all. However, if you had an employment contract guaranteeing job security, and you were terminated without due cause, you may have a claim for breach of contract. A group employment contract, such as a Collective Bargaining Agreement, may constitute an actionable employment agreement. Exceptions to the “at-will” rule may also include tenured professionals and civil service workers. For example, if you were a tenured professor and were terminated, you might be able to file a lawsuit.

Common Causes Of Wrongful Termination

  • Discrimination Federal and state laws protect employees from being fired on the basis of race, religion, national origin, age, gender, disability, pregnancy, or sexual orientation.
  • Retaliation You are protected from being terminated for whistleblowing, reporting harassment, being involved in a harassment investigation, reporting illegal activities, and complaining about improper conduct at work.
  • FMLA violations – If you took family or medical leave within your legal bounds, and were let go from your job, it may be a Family and Medical Leave Act violation.
  • ADA violations – It is illegal to discharge a person for requesting a reasonable accommodation for his or her disability.

There are a bevy of state and federal laws designed to safeguard hard-working employees like you from wrongful discharge:

For more information about the statutes that apply to you, speak with a skilled New Jersey wrongful termination lawyer.

You’ve worked tirelessly all your life to secure a stable career path. Now that you’ve been unjustly discharged, let us work for you. Call the law firm of Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, PC. at (908) 561-5577  or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled and experienced New Jersey employment law attorneys.

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Five Reasons Every Company Needs Employee Manuals and Personnel Policies

Owning a business means crossing every “T” and dotting each “i.” Employers who fail to set forth employee expectations by providing clear-cut, legally-sound employee handbooks, manuals, policies, and procedures leave themselves wide open to controversy and confusion — and, even worse, lawsuits and legal liability.

Here are the top five reasons having an employee handbook and personnel policies in place is absolutely crucial to the success of a company:

  1. Outline employee expectations. Let employees know what the rules and expectations are. Communicate how a worker is supposed to behave, when the working hours are, how compensation works, and what benefits and awards are available. Employees feel more secure when they understand appropriate boundaries.
  2. Define employment status. Are your employees “at-will” employees? What are the rules for contractors and independent contractors? Let your workers know exactly where they stand with no ambiguity.
  3. Explain reporting channels. If a dispute or inter-office conflict arises, lay out the proper reporting channels for employees. Explain how to lodge an official complaint if necessary. This is helpful for potential lawsuits, and also lets employees know they have a voice.
  4. Provide fair treatment of workers. Workers tend to be happier when they know everyone is being treated fairly and consistently. Having the same policies and procedures for all employees helps prevent future disputes and resentments.
  5. Limit liability. If a serious employment dispute arises — such as a claim of sexual harassment or discrimination — and an employee did not follow the set-forth procedures for reporting the conduct, an employer may be able to deny liability in court.

What happens when my employer doesn’t have a handbook?

Failing to have a manual and HR policies is not illegal — it’s just irresponsible. If your employer does not provide you with clear-cut employment policies, ask what is expected of you. Record any wrongdoing within the company. Save evidence for your own records.

Have you been the victim of sexual harassment, discrimination, or other unfair treatment at work? The NJ employment lawyers at Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C. are here to assist you with all employment-related claims. Contact us today at (908) 561-5577.

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Whistleblower Rewards: Qui Tam Lawsuits Explained

Have you reported fraud within an organization?

You may be entitled to more than just a feeling of satisfaction after doing a good deed. If you recover funds for the government after reporting fraud under the False Claims Act, you might be entitled to compensation. Our NJ whistleblower lawyers can assist you in pursuing a monetary award with a Qui Tam action.

The False Claims Act

Fraud against the government is covered by the False Claims Act (FCA). People or companies who defraud the government —meaning they improperly received payment or avoided paying the Federal government monies owed — may be held liable under the Act. Typically, these types of claims involve Medicare and Medicaid fraud, defense contractor fraud, and more. Some high profile FCA claims involved large pharmaceutical companies.

What is a Qui Tam action?

Most FCA claims are filed by private citizens on behalf of the government. These claims are called Qui Tam actions. If you have knowledge of fraud against the government, you can file a qui tam lawsuit. Within the context of the suit, you are known as the relator. As the relator, you are entitled to a share of the money recovered by the government.

Once you file a claim, the federal government investigates the charges within 60 days or files an extension to continue the investigation. The government either proceeds with the action, or gives the relator the right to proceed. If the government intervenes, they have the primary responsibility to litigate the claim. If they decline to intervene, the burden falls on you, the relator.

Your share of the Qui Tam remedies

If the government intervenes in the qui tam action, the relator is entitled to receive between 15 and 25 percent of the amount recovered by the government through the qui tam action. If the government declines to intervene in the action, the relator’s share is increased to 25 to 30 percent. Under certain circumstances, the relator’s share may be reduced to no more than ten percent.

If you have proof of fraud against the government, do not hesitate to contact Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C. at (908) 561-5577  or contact us online to arrange a case evaluation with a qualified New Jersey whistleblower attorney

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Do Wage And Hour Laws Apply to Me?

You work hard. You show up on time, perform your job well, and get praise from your superiors. You do not deserve to be taken advantage of. Wage and hour laws are dedicated protections for New Jersey workers so you get paid every cent you deserve. When unscrupulous employers deny you basic rights as an employee, an NJ employment lawyer can help you fight back.

Wondering if New Jersey state and nation-wide federal wage and hour laws apply to you? Here are some basic answers to our clients’ common questions.

Should I be paid the minimum wage?

In most cases, yes. In New Jersey, the minimum wage is $8.25 an hour. Here are some exceptions:

  • If you are a tipped employee, your total earnings (hourly wage plus tips) must equal at least the minimum wage. The suggested rate is $2.13. So, say you are a waiter in a restaurant. If your employer pays you $2.13 an hour, your tips must combine with that wage to equal at least $8.25 per hour.
  • Other exceptions include car salespersons, outside salespersons, and certain minors under the age of 18.

Am I entitled to overtime pay?

If you work more than 40 hours in a seven-day work week, overtime should be paid at the rate of time and one half. There are some notable exceptions: if you are classified as an exempt, salaried employee, you are not entitled to overtime pay. You must meet the definition of executive, administrator, or professional.

Do the NJ laws enforced by the Division of Wage and Hour Compliance apply to me?

The Division of Wage and Hour Compliance covers most employees working in New Jersey, except state, county or municipal government workers and Board of Education employees. These employees fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Wage and Hour Division

I’m an independent contractor. What rules apply to me?

As an independent contractor, you are not covered by the Division of Wage and Hour Compliance. Complaints can be brought to small claims court if necessary.

Are there special protections for minors under 18?

Yes. There are minimum age requirements for minors working in certain fields. Children under 18 years old are required to be given mandatory breaks after five hours of consecutive work — there are no lunch and break requirements for adults working in New Jersey.

Our New Jersey employment lawyers have only scratched the surface. There are dozens of caveats, special regulations, and exceptions regarding wage and hour laws in New Jersey. Contact the law firm of Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C. 24/7 at (908) 561-5577  or contact us online to learn more about your legal rights.

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Does ERISA Apply to Me?

As a dedicated worker, you count on your retirement benefits when it’s time for you to finally end your professional career. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is designed to protect hard-working people like you who are relying on retirement benefits and/or pensions promised by your employer. When your employer fails to deliver your retirement benefits, speak with a New Jersey employment lawyer who can help you obtain full and fair compensation.

What is ERISA?

Enacted in 1974, ERISA is a federal law sets minimum standards for pension plans in the private sector. It does not require companies to offer pension plans or benefits. It does, however, require companies who offer plans to provide adequate plan information to participants, set minimum standards for participation and vesting, require accountability of fiduciaries, and guarantee payment of certain benefits if a plan is terminated.

Who does ERISA apply to?

You may be protected by ERISA if:

  • You are employed by a private-sector company that offers employer-sponsored pensions, health insurance coverage, and/or other benefit plans. Private-sector companies include partnerships, proprietorships, LLCs, S-corporations, C-corporations; OR
  • You are employed by a nonprofit corporations that offers benefit plans; OR
  • You are employed by a small company of only a couple employees and offers benefit plans

The protective laws under ERISA only apply to private employers (non-government) that offer employer-sponsored health insurance coverage and other benefit plans to employees. ERISA does not require employers to offer plans; it only sets rules for benefits that an employer chooses to offer.

ERISA laws do not apply to privately purchased, individual insurance policies or benefits.

Exceptions to ERISA

ERISA most likely does not apply to you if:

  • You are a government employee
  • You are employed by a church
  • You are covered by a plan solely maintained for workers’ compensation disability
  • You are covered by a plan maintained outside of the United States

Does ERISA apply to my benefits?

As a general rule, ERISA applies to: insurance plans, defined benefit and defined contribution retirement funds, HRAs, flexible spending accounts, dental plans, disability insurance, and long-term care insurance plans. It may also cover severance plans, pre-paid legal service plans, vacation plans, housing assistance plans, unemployment benefit plans, scholarship plans, and training plans.

Have you been denied the benefits to which you are entitled? An NJ employment attorney at Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C. can help. Call us today at (908) 561-5577 or contact us online.

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