Labor & Employment Law: Representing Public Sector Employees

Labor & Employment Law: Representing Public Sector Employees

McLaughlin & Nardi’s employment attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of New Jersey’s government employees.

Public sector employees have greater protections than those in the private sector because the government is their employer. We represent state, county, local, federal, bi-state agency, and public school and college employees when their rights are violated by their employers. Our employment lawyers have considerable experience and expertise in this area. We have litigated many cases to successful conclusions, and Maurice McLaughlin has written the conclusive two volume treatise on the subject, New Jersey Public Employment Law (published by Gann Law Books).

We represent a wide variety of public employees, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, teachers and other school employees, state municipal, county and local government employees.

Constitutional & Civil Rights Claims. Government employees have all the rights and protections which their private sector counter parts enjoy. They have additional protections under the New Jersey Civil Rights Act and the Federal Civil Rights Act (also known as “Section 1983”) because they are employed by the government. Some of the protections include:

  • Due Process: Many government employees (those who have obtained “tenure,” civil service protection, or otherwise become “permanent” employees) have a constitutionally protected interest in not being terminated or disciplined without due process.
  • First Amendment: The government cannot retaliate against its employees for speaking out on matters of public concern beyond the scope of their job duties.
  • Equal Protection: The government cannot treat similarly situated differently without a legitimate reason or in an arbitrary or capricious manner.
  • Discrimination: Like private sector companies, the government cannot discriminate against its employees because of who they are. This includes a wide range of factors, such as a person’s race, age, religion and disabilities. However, New Jersey extends this to a far wider range of protections – far more, in fact, than the Federal Government. Employers cannot discriminate against employees because of union activity or membership, sexual orientation, genetic information or gender expression.
  • Whistleblower Retaliation: New Jersey's whistleblower laws protect employees who object to, disclose, or refuse to participate in any practice, conduct or policies which they reasonably be leave violate a law, rule, or clear mandate of public policy concerning public health, safety or patient care, which is fraudulent, or which violates civil service laws.

Civil Servants. Among the protections unique to government employees is civil service protection. All state and most local workers are protected by civil service laws, which were adopted to take politics, nepotism and favoritism out of government jobs. The goal was to keep public employment focused on merit so government could best serve the people. We represent employees in protecting their rights against violation by government employers both in the civil service arena and in state and federal court.

Law Enforcement Officers. New Jersey police and other law enforcement officers receive special protections. While the laws do not always refer to it as “tenure,” that is essentially they receive. In addition to applicable civil service protections, the law expressly prohibits firing or otherwise disciplining permanent police officers without “just cause,” which means “incapacity, misconduct, or disobedience of rules and regulations.” Political consideration is expressly prohibited by law in disciplinary or termination decisions. A New Jersey police officer is also entitled to written notice of charges and a hearing. Officers subject to civil service can appeal discipline through the Civil Service Commission, and officers in other jurisdictions can appeal directly to the Superior Court. Our employment attorneys have significant experience and success in representing law enforcement officers.

Teachers, Principals, Superintendants, Public School, Public College and other Educational Institution Employees. New Jersey’s Constitution guarantees a thorough and effective education for its public students. Despite the recurring uproar in the press and during campaign seasons, our dedicated teachers and other school employees are not paid what they are worth. However, we still want the best teachers for our students, principals and administrators to run the schools, and janitors, secretaries, nurses, and other employees to staff the schools. Therefore, in order to attract the best talent, New Jersey has developed a comprehensive system of laws to protect teachers, principals and other school employees from unjust discipline and politics. The law also provides protections for public college employees as well. We have significant experience representing teachers and other school employees. Indeed, Maurice McLaughlin “wrote the book” on the subject.

New Jersey State Troopers. Like other New Jersey law enforcement officers, the statutes of Troopers do not refer to “tenure.” However, the law effectively grants troopers “tenure” during good behavior after a five year probationary period. Essentially, once they receive this “tenure,” They cannot be fired or disciplined “for any cause other than incapacity, misconduct, or disobedience of rules and regulations established for the State Police.” The trooper has a right to notice and a hearing for any discipline.

Wage and Hour Claims. While government employees receive the same wage and hour protections as private sector employees, there are unique aspects to the relationship. We have successfully represented government employees in a wide range of wage and hour issues.

McLaughlin & Nardi’s New Jersey Public Employment Attorneys

We represented many civil servants, law enforcement officers, and other public employees. If your government employer has violated your rights, e-mail us or call (973) 890-0004. We are experienced at fighting for the rights of public employees, who go to work every day to serve our citizens.

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