New Jersey’s Public Employees Should Know their Rights

Public employees are central to any society. Teachers, firefighters, road workers, and law enforcement personnel provide vital public services in our communities. Although former Governor Chris Christie enjoyed railing against public school teachers and other workers, the fact is that no state can survive for long without a talented public workforce.

At some point in your career, you might find that your rights have been violated. Fortunately, different laws provide ample protections, but you will need an experienced attorney to help you. Reach out to Sattiraju & Tharney, LLP today to schedule a consultation.

Overtime Pay

New Jersey’s labor laws apply to public employers as well as private ones. Under NJSA § 34:11-56a1, “employer” is defined to cover the State of New Jersey, as well as any municipality, city, or school district located inside the state. So public employees are covered.

New Jersey’s overtime laws are also very clear: a worker is entitled to 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for any hours worked over 40 in a week. So if a worker makes $16.00 an hour and works 44 hours, then 4 of those hours cannot be compensated at less than $24.00.

There are exemptions under the law for people working in administrative, executive, or professional capacity, so some public workers won’t qualify. However, many employees qualify even if they are paid a salary. If you have a collective bargaining agreement, you may have other rights related to overtime.


Discrimination in employment is flatly illegal. Employment discrimination covers all aspects of a job, including:

  • Hiring
  • Retention
  • Layoffs or termination
  • Promotion
  • Pay and benefits
  • Training opportunities

Both federal and state laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of certain characteristics. New Jersey’s law is broader than the federal law and protects against discrimination based on race, color, ethnicity, sex, age, religion, disability, and other classifications.

If you have suffered discrimination, you should meet with an attorney today. You might be entitled to job reinstatement, backpay, benefits, and other forms of compensation.


Harassment is a form of discrimination and is illegal under both state and federal law. Harassment can take several forms, but most simply it is unwelcome conduct that makes an environment hostile. For example, jokes, teasing, insults, and nicknames that denigrate a worker on the basis of a protected characteristic can qualify as harassing.

Sexual harassment can also consist of a sexual quid pro quo, meaning your boss wants you to exchange sex for something, like a promotion, or else your boss threatens to fire you if you do not submit to sexual activity. This type of harassment is also illegal.

Speak to a New Jersey Public Sector Employment Lawyer

Sattiraju Law has made a name for itself in New Jersey by taking some of the most difficult employment law cases and turning them to our client’s advantage. For information about your rights and what kind of compensation you can receive, please contact us. We can better analyze your precise situation in a consultation with one of our attorneys.