New Jersey Employment Lawyer
While New Jersey has long had a reputation as one of the states with laws most favorable to employees, along with California and a few others, the environment here is not quite as favorable as it once was. This turn for the worse is largely due to a more conservative New Jersey Supreme Court, which 25 years ago was one of the leading courts in developing the law protecting the rights of employees. That, unfortunately, is no longer the case.
Nonetheless, New Jersey’s employment laws, and the court decisions interpreting them, still remain significantly stronger than those in the vast majority of states. Moreover, the protections provided to New Jersey employees by our State’s employment laws are almost uniformly better than those provided under federal law, and our state courts remain more protective of employee rights than do the federal courts.
New Jersey’s Anti-Discrimination Laws
The employment lawyers at Schall & Barasch know that one of the principal areas in which this is true involves the much greater potential damages employees can recover under New Jersey’s anti-discrimination laws, as opposed to the federal laws against discrimination. In 1991, Congress amended the principal federal anti-discrimination law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to impose “caps” on the total amount of compensatory and punitive damages that employees could recover upon proving and winning a case that they had been discriminated against by their employees. Those “caps” can be as little as $50,000 for small employers and go up only to $300,000 for even the largest employers.
By contrast, under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, which outlaws discrimination based on race, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation and also covers a host of other “protected classes,” there are no “caps” on damages. Millions of dollars are potentially recoverable, in a sufficiently egregious case of employment discrimination, against any employer in the State of New Jersey, regardless of size.
The Conscientious Employee Protection Act
New Jersey also has a very strong law, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act, or CEPA, protecting the rights of whistleblowers and those who refuse to go along with employer demands that they participate in unlawful conduct. While there have unfortunately been a few recent decisions from the New Jersey Supreme Court and the Appellate Division wrongly curtailing the protections of the law as intended by our Legislature, CEPA remains one of the strongest whistleblower protection laws in the country.
Protection from Overbroad Non-Compete Agreements
In the area of protecting employees from overbroad or oppressive non-compete agreements, New Jersey’s courts have also been among the more proactive courts around the country in doing so. If a non-compete agreement is not legitimately protecting some genuine employer interest, but is instead merely anti-competitive, our courts will refuse to enforce it, even though an employee has signed it and stated (generally with no choice but to do otherwise) that he or she “agrees” that its terms are “reasonable.” In some cases, a court will find that a non-compete agreement covers too long a period of time or too great an area of geographic scope.
Contact an Employment Lawyer in New Jersey
In closing, it is important to understand that the law that will apply to you is, generally speaking, the law in the state in which you work, not necessarily the state in which you live. So, for example, if you live in New Jersey but regularly work in Pennsylvania, you will not likely find yourself protected by New Jersey’s employment laws.
Obviously, if you have questions about the laws that may apply to you, it is important to consult with an experienced employment lawyer. If you are interested in consultation with Schall & Barasch, we encourage you to fill out the “Help Us Understand Your Case” Questionnaire, which you can find on the home page of this web site.
* In every year since 2014, the law firm of Schall & Barasch has been included in the Tier 1 list of best law firms in New Jersey practicing in the field of employment law on behalf of individuals. This list is compiled by U.S. News & World Report. A description of the selection methodology can be found at www.bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.
** The methodology for the Avvo ratings of Richard Schall and Patricia Barasch can be found at www.avvo.com/support/avvo_rating.
*** In every year since 2009, Richard Schall has been chosen to be included on the list of Best Lawyers in New Jersey practicing in the field of labor and employment law. The Best Lawyers list is issued by Best Lawyers International. A description of the selection methodology can be found at www.bestlawyers.com/about/MethodologyBasic.aspx.
**** In every year since 2005, both Patricia Barasch and Richard Schall have been chosen to be included on the list of Super Lawyers in New Jersey practicing in the field of employment law on behalf of plaintiffs. The Super Lawyers list is issued by Thomson Reuters. A description of the selection methodology can be found at www.superlawyers.com/about/selection_process.html.
No aspect of these advertisements has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.