The Garden State of New Jersey (home to 8.68 million people per a 2008 census estimate) boasts one of the highest personal income per capita rates in the nation, as well as the highest percentage of millionaires per capita. But despite the state’s great wealth and diverse economy, it faces serious financial troubles, including a blossoming multi-billion dollar budget deficit.
New Jersey supports a variety of industrial and manufacturing businesses. The New Jersey shore (including the gaming capital, Atlantic City) brings in millions of dollars’ worth of tourist revenue annually. The state’s key cash crops include seafood, dairy, and fruits and vegetables. Residents of northern New Jersey often commute to work in New York City, so a relative economic symbiosis exists between NJ and NY. The artificial flavoring industry is based out of New Jersey; companies in this sector produce fragrances that wind up in everything from perfume to deodorant to toothpaste.
Employment discrimination and harassment cases fall under the jurisdiction of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. This agency handles workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, and disability and temporary disability cases, as well as:
- Wage and hour violations. New Jersey employers adhere to minimum wage regulations; they also must engage in honest and equitable compensation practices. This means they must pay employees for every hour worked, including overtime for nonexempt workers.
- Family leave matters. When an employee experiences a health or family related event, such as childbirth, adoption, or prolonged illness, he or she may take 12 weeks off work each year without fear of losing employment.
The agency also provides information about the labor market, training and skills development programs, forums to appeal decisions, and information for employers to help them comply with laws and codes.
The New Jersey Department of Public Labor and Development website provides answers to frequently asked questions about minimum wage loss, employment certificates, and timelines for compensation and benefit claims, as well as tips for how to file for claims.
Although racial attitudes in New Jersey have improved by leaps and bounds since the days of the Civil Rights Movement, racial discrimination and national origin harassment continue to create problems for many New Jersey employees. The predominantly African-American city of Newark, for instance, has been a battleground over efforts to level the playing field for workers and snuff out unfair practices and biases.
Employers may not discriminate against people with disabilities -- anyone who suffers a physical or mental condition that affects one or more essential “life functions” is protected. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) stipulates employers must accommodate qualified individuals with the work environments or schedules they need to perform their work effectively.
If you believe that your New Jersey employer has discriminated against you or retaliated against you for alleging discrimination, harassment, or wage and hour violations, you may need legal help to hold your employer accountable. Find a qualified local attorney to help you plan your next steps.