Employment Law

Employment law is one of those areas of law that is highly specialized. There are a myriad of intricacies that can easily be missed by an attorney who is inexperienced in this area of law or who does not regularly practice in this area. Here at S. Jason & Associates, Stephania Jason has practiced employment law for several years in both New York & New Jersey. She is a member of the NY & NJ Chapters of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), an association that promotes workplace rights. Ms. Jason also regularly attends continuing legal education courses on the subject of employment law to stay current with any new issues that arise in employment law. She also writes a blog analyzing current issues in employment law in New York & New Jersey.

We offer negotiation and litigation services to employees and also offer counseling services to small businesses. Below are some of the various employment matters we handle at S. Jason & Associates.You can go directly to the information that pertains to you by clicking on one of the links here Employment Counselling Employment Agreement/Severance Package Employment Discrimination | Gender Identity Discrimination | Sexual Harassment | Family Medical Leave Act | Overtime Pay | Retaliation | Wrongful Termination | Types of Potential Recovery in Employment Cases | Back to Top

Employment Counseling
Some times in the course of our employment we get the feeling that things aren’t right? Comments are made. Circumstances start to change and we are not sure what we should do. Not every employee needs litigation. Often they just need to talk to someone to find out their options or figure out non-legal ways to save their job or protect their interests. At S. Jason & Associates, we are available to counsel employees on their employment issues.

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Employment Agreement/Severance Package Reviews
Whether you are just starting a relationship with an employer or ending your relationship, it is important to have an attorney review your agreement to make sure that your interests are being protected. This is especially true if your agreement includes non-competition, non-solicitation, or confidentiality provisions because these provisions can restrict your future employment. If you have received an employment or severance agreement and would like an attorney to review them or negotiate more favorable terms on your behalf feel free to contact S. Jason & Associates.

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Employment Discrimination
Unfortunately employment discrimination is still a major concern for our society. To help alleviate sexual harassment, federal, state and city laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees for a variety of reasons including race, color, sex, age, national origin, ancestry, military obligations, religion, disability, familial status, pregnancy, sexual orientation and gender identity. Discrimination requires an adverse act on the part of the employer. An adverse act includes, but is not limited to, failure to hire, failure to promote, unequal pay or treatment and discharge.

Because of statute of limitations and the requirements of federal employment discrimination laws, if you feel you have been discriminated against it is important that you seek the advice of an attorney as soon as possible.

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Gender Identity Discrimination
In 2007, transgender or gender identity expression was added as a separate protected class under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Under the new law, employers will be required to allow employees to dress and groom themselves according to their gender identity.

Often in transgender discrimination cases an employer feels uncomfortable with the change of the employee’s gender and terminates them. If you are transgendered and you feel that you have been discriminated against feel free to contact S. Jason & Associates.

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Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment comes in two forms, quid pro quo and hostile work environment. In both types an employee is subjected to unwelcome sexual advances, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature or request for sexual favors.

In quid pro quo sexual harassment the employer, usually a supervisor, makes it clear to the employee that their job will be affected if they do not perform sexual favors. This behavior can be overt or subtle. This harassment usually starts with sexual suggestions or comments or physical touching in inappropriate areas.

In hostile work environment sexual harassment the employee is subjected to the unwelcome sexual conduct or requests to such a degree that it interferes with the employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

Examples of sexual harassing behavior include:

· Touching such as patting, pinching or intentional brushing up against an employee’s body
· Offensive comments about looks, clothing or body parts
· Staring in a sexually suggestive manner
· Sending, forwarding or soliciting sexually suggestive letters, notes, emails or pictures
· Telling lewd or sexual jokes, hanging sexual posters or making sexual gestures

At S. Jason & Associates, we seek to help employees recover from the employer’s failure to remedy sexual harassment in the workplace.

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Family Medical Leave Act
The goal of both the federal and NJ Family Medical Leave Acts is to provide job security for employees who need to take time off due to the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for a seriously ill family member. The federal Family Medical Leave Act also allows employees to take time off for their own serious health condition. The employee can take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave and is guaranteed the same or similar position when they return to work. If you feel that your employer has violated the FMLA, S. Jason & Associates can help you determine what remedies may be available to you.

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Overtime Pay
Overtime pay is one of many areas covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It is an area in which employers often violate the law. Under the FLSA and state laws an employer must pay an employee for all time worked. Hourly employees must also be paid time and a half, (1 ½) times their ordinary rate, when they work over 40 hours in a week.

Salaried employees are also eligible for overtime under the FLSA. Many employers mistakenly believe that paying an employee a salaried wage exempts them from overtime requirements. However, overtime pay is determined by a number of factors. An employee who meets certain factors is “exempt” from the FLSA. Examples of exempt employees include executives, professionals and managers. Because of the intricacies involved in overtime regulations it is important to have an employment attorney review the details surrounding your employment.

The following are examples of how employers often try to avoid paying overtime:

· Having employees work "off the clock"
· Denying employees overtime pay when the overtime is not approved by management
· Paying employees their regular rate for overtime work
· Carrying over one week's overtime hours into another week
· Using a timekeeping method that automatically "clocks out" employees either for lunch periods or at the end of a time period, regardless of whether the employees continue working for the clocked-out time
· Requiring employees to arrive early to perform necessary preparations for work, including putting on or removing protective gear
· Altering employees' time sheets.

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Retaliation
Retaliation in the workplace occurs when an employer fires, demotes, harasses or otherwise "retaliates" against an employee after that individual has participated in a protected behavior. An employee who has been discharged or demoted as the result of this type of retaliation may bring a lawsuit against the employer.

Examples of Protected Behavior:

· Reporting, or threatening to report an employer's unlawful activity to appropriate authorities. 
· Making safety complaints,
· Protesting or filing a charge of unlawful discrimination
· Demanding overtime pay or other wages

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Wrongful Termination

In most states, including NY & NJ employment is “at will.” This means that unless you fall under certain exceptions your employer can fire you or lay you off for any reason or no reason at all. If you are fired for the following reasons you may have a case of wrongful termination:

· Due to discrimination based on color, sex, age, national origin, ancestry, military obligations, religion, disability, familial status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity
· In violation of a written employment contract between you and your employer
· In violation of written procedures in your employee handbook
· In retaliation for legally protected activity.
· For taking time off when you have a legal right to take time off such as for military duty or voting

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Types of Potential Recovery in Employment Cases
· Get your job back (reinstatement)
· Receive back pay (money from the time you were fired until the date of the court decision)
· Receive front pay (money you could have received had you been able to return to work under better conditions)
· Compensatory damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress
· Punitive damages
· Promotion if you were unfairly denied promotion opportunities
· Reasonable accommodations if the court found that your employer failed to make reasonable accommodations
· Attorneys’ fees

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