When an employer violates a workers’ rights, our firm has helped workers bring lawsuits to protect themselves. The amount and type of compensation available varies depending on the rights violated. Below, our New Jersey employment lawyer examines some of the more common employment lawsuits and the remedies available to our clients.
Wage & Hour Violations
When an employer fails to pay the minimum wage or required overtime, then employees can file a lawsuit in court or a wage claim with the state. If successful in their case, they are eligible to receive the following:
- Unpaid wages
- Liquidated damages in an amount 200% of the original unpaid wages
- Attorneys’ fees
For example, if Melissa is not paid $2,000 in overtime, she can get the original $2,000 plus up to $4,000 in liquidated damages. She can also have her attorneys’ fees paid, which makes bringing a lawsuit a sensible choice.
The state can fine employers $500-1,000 for a first violation and between $1,000-2,000 for subsequent violations. However, the money goes to the state.
Both New Jersey and federal law prohibit discrimination on the basis of certain protected characteristics, such as age, race, nationality, sex, pregnancy, disability, and other bases. You can see a full list of protected characteristics at N.J. Stat. Ann. §10:5-4.
If an employer takes a negative employment action, an employee can seek various remedies to undo the discrimination. For example, an employee might request job reinstatement, forced hiring, forced promotion, and/or the restoration of lost seniority rights.
Employees can also seek all remedies necessary to make them whole, including:
- Lost wages and benefits
- Interest on lost wages
- Compensation for emotional distress and/or pain and suffering
- Reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs
An employer who has violated the Law Against Discrimination can also be fined up to $10,000 for a first offense, $25,000 for a second offense, and $50,000 for a third or subsequent offense. These penalties are paid to the state (not the employee).
Employment in New Jersey is generally at-will, but there are exceptions. When an employer illegally fires someone, then the employee might pursue reinstatement into her old job. However, this is not always realistic, since the relationship might be so strained that working for an employer no longer makes sense.
Other remedies will depend on the law violated when the employer terminated the employment relationship. For example, if the employer discriminated against a person on account of sex, then the remedies listed above are available.
New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) protects people who blow the whistle on suspected criminal or fraudulent activity in certain situations. If a worker is punished or terminated in retaliation, the worker can seek many remedies, including:
- Reinstatement (if fired or demoted)
- Lost wages
- Lost benefits
- Emotional distress damages
- Punitive damages for egregious violations
- Attorneys’ fees
The state can also assess civil fines up to $10,000 for a first violation and $20,000 for a second or subsequent violation. The money is deposited into the general fund for the state.
Fight for Your Rights for Damages Paid in New Jersey Employment Lawsuit
Sattiraju & Tharney, LLP is dedicated to protecting the rights of employees when they are violated by employers. Our firm has an impressive track record of success, and you can speak with one of our lawyers by calling to schedule an initial consultation.