Tag Archives: CEPA

New Jersey Law Makers are Considering a Bill to Protect Employee Privacy by Prohibiting Employers from Requiring Disclosure of Usernames and Passwords for Social Networking Sites, including Facebook.

About a month ago we discussed legal concerns regarding employees’ privacy rights on Facebook.   We reviewed such concerns and rights by analyzing such procedures against current New Jersey (NJ) and Pennsylvania employment laws.  We analyzed such legal issues as there is a growing trend of employers requiring employees and prospective employees to reveal passwords and usernames for social networking websites.

As stated in the prior posting, Swartz Swidler, LLC, a law firm focused on New Jersey (NJ) and Pennsylvania (PA) employment law, supports an outright ban on employers requesting social networking passwords from their employees and prospective employees.  We support such a ban not only to support employee privacy concerns, but also because we are very concerned that an employer with such access would be more likely to discriminate against prospective and current employees for reasons which are already illegal under current law, such as on the basis of sexual orientation, medical status, family status, and other personal issues to which an employer should not have the right to seek information about.

New Jersey (NJ) legislatures are now in the process of considering Assembly Bill No. 2878 (“Bill”) that will settle this area of employment law and prevent retaliation or discrimination for failing to provide access to one’s username or password on social networking websites:

This bill prohibits an employer from requiring a current or prospective employee to provide or disclose any user name or password, or in any way provide the employer access to, a personal account or service through an electronic communications device.  An employer is also prohibited from asking a current or prospective employee if he has an account or profile on a social networking website.

Under the Bill, an employer would be prohibited from asking an employee or prospective employee for their username or password to any social networking site.  The employer would even be banned from asking if the employee or prospective employee has an account or profile on such a site.

In addition to prohibiting employers from inquiring about social networking websites, the Bill creates a cause of action akin to a whistleblower claim under the New Jersey (NJ) Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”).  The Bill prohibits retaliation or discrimination against someone who “files a complaint pursuant to provisions of the bill;…testifies, assists, or participates in an investigation, proceeding, or action concerning a violation of the bill; or…otherwise opposes a violation of the bill.”  The Bill has therefore ensured that employees are able to assert the rights granted to them in this Bill.

In addition, any employer that violates the Bill could be hit with significant fines for each violation paid to the New Jersey (NJ) Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development.

Swartz Swidler, LLC a Pennsylvania (PA) and New Jersey (NJ) employment law firm, strongly endorses this Bill.  If you believe you have been discriminated against, unlawfully discharged, denied wages or overtime, or retaliated against, and you would like to speak to an employment attorney, please contact us for a free consultation at (856) 685-7420. You may also contact us through our website.

Posted in New Jersey (NJ) Discrimination Law, New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act, Whistleblowers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Jersey (NJ) Appellate Division Reinstates Retaliation Employment Law Claims Asserting Violations of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJ LAD”) and Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (“Section 1981”)

On April 13, 2012, the New Jersey Appellate Division overturned the trial court and reinstated claims that assert violations of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJ LAD”) and 42 U.S.C. §1981, Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (“Section 1981”) that were dismissed pursuant to the trial court’s order.

Swartz Swidler, LLC, New Jersey (NJ) and Pennsylvania (PA) employment attorneys, represent the plaintiff, who appealed the decision of the trial court awarding summary judgment against her.

The state of New Jersey (NJ) employee asserts that her employer retaliated against her for blowing the whistle on discrimination which she asserts was occurring at the New Lisbon Developmental Center.  The employee, who is Caucasian, was not herself subject to discrimination on the basis the color of her skin, but asserts that numerous minority employees were. When those employees filed a discrimination lawsuit against the employer, she assisted by providing information to their attorney.  She asserts that following her assistance, she was pretextually disciplined, suspended, and terminated.  She contends that she was wrongfully terminated and suspended.

While it was not disputed that she had assisted the other employees in their discrimination claims, the lower court had determined that the employee had not presented enough evidence to prove the state had knowledge of her assistance in the other discrimination lawsuit.  Knowledge of such action is required in a retaliation claim where an employee asserts the employer terminated her based on her engagement the protected activity.  The plaintiff asserted that the specific references to her in the discrimination lawsuit provided enough notice to the employer that she engaged in a protected activity.

The Appellate Division agreed in an opinion issued last month, and overturned the Mercer County Court judge and remanded the matter for trial.  It is expected the case will go to trial before the end of the year.

If you would like to speak with experience New Jersey (NJ) and Pennsylvania (PA) employment law attorneys, you may contact us for a free consultation through our website at www.swartz-legal.com or 877-529-9501.

Posted in New Jersey (NJ) Discrimination Law, New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act, Whistleblowers, Wrongful Termination | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Overtime, Minimum Wage, and Retaliation Lawsuit Filed Against Hotel Alleging Violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), New Jersey Wage Payment Law (“NJWPL”), and the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”) for Failure to Pay Mandatory Overtime and Wages

On February 24, 2012, two (2) hotel employees working at an America’s Best Inn and Suites in Galloway, New Jersey filed a federal lawsuit in New Jersey asserting multiple violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law (“NJWHL”), the New Jersey Wage Payment Law (“NJWPL”), and the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”).  The employees are represented by New Jersey (NJ) and Pennsylvania (PA) employment attorneys, Swartz Swidler, LLC.

The lawsuit asserts that the Hotel’s wage and hour policies violated the law.

First, the lawsuit asserts that Defendants failed to pay the lawful minimum wage.  According to the federal lawsuit, the employees allegedly worked substantial overtime yet were paid a flat salary that failed to compensate them for any hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours.  The lawsuit contends that Defendants violated the law for failure to pay them overtime, failure to pay them even the Federal or State minimum wage, and failure to keep proper records regarding hours worked.

Lastly, the lawsuit alleges that Defendants terminated Plaintiffs in retaliation for complaining to management regarding the illegal pay practices.  The complaints that Plaintiffs purportedly made to management were protected activities under the New Jersey (NJ) employment law and therefore the lawsuit contends that the retaliatory termination in response to the complaints was unlawful and resulted in both Plaintiffs being wrongfully terminated.

Should you wish to speak with an attorney experienced in New Jersey (NJ) and Pennsylvania (PA) employment law, please contact us for a free consultation.  You can reach us at 877-529-9501, or through our website at www.swartz-legal.com.

Posted in Federal FLSA Collective Actions, New Jersey (NJ) Discrimination Law, New Jersey (NJ) Wage and Hour, New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act, Whistleblowers, Wrongful Termination | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whistleblowing Lawsuit Alleging Wrongful Termination Filed in Federal Court

On November 15, 2011, a former employee of Johnson Controls, Inc. and Mars, Inc. filed a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court in Trenton, New Jersey asserting that he was terminated in violation of the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”) for reporting safety violations to internal management.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that the employee witnessed his supervisor, during an inspection of a leak on a roof, walking directly upon a cable tray “which carried up to 4,160 volts of electricity.”  According to the lawsuit, the employee informed his supervisor that his conduct was unsafe and was in violation of OSHA and the Company’s own safety policies.  The employee advised his supervisor to use the wooden walkway, an instruction which according to the lawsuit, was ignored.

The Complaint asserts that following the incident, in March of 2011, the employee complained about his supervisor’s conduct to management.  The company requested that he not provide written documentation relating to the safety violation, but assured the employee that it would investigate the incident.  Rather than investigate same, the lawsuit asserts that the Company fired him upon his return from a vacation in April of 2011.

In the lawsuit, the employee claims that his firing constitutes a wrongful termination, in violation of CEPA.

The employee is represented by Swartz Swidler, LLC, an employment law firm based in Cherry Hill, NJ.

Posted in New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act, Whistleblowers, Wrongful Termination | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment