Police and Law Enforcement Officers
Police and law enforcement officers have all the protections which private sector and other government employees have, and in addition enjoy special protections because of the great responsibilities which our society places on their shoulders. Like any organizations, there are sometimes a few bad apples in police departments, and sometimes these bad apples rise to levels of authority over other officers. The pressures of the law enforcement and corrections environments can make personal interactions more intense, and paramilitary discipline and chains of command give these “bad apples” more authority to carry out illegal employment decisions. It is generally here where wrongful employment decisions in the law enforcement community come from. Our New Jersey police attorneys represent police officers whose employment rights have been violated.Whistleblower Protection
All New Jersey employees receive protection from whistleblowing retaliation. Indeed, New Jersey’s whistleblower protection laws are the strongest in the nation. This is particularly important in the law enforcement environment; violations of the law by law enforcement personnel can have severe consequences. This is why it is so important that honest officers who try to stop illegal conduct are protected.
New Jersey’s Whistleblower Law (New Jersey’s “Conscientious Employee Protection Act”) protects employees who object to, disclose, or refuse to participate in any policy, practice or conduct of their employers which they believe violates a law, regulation, civil service laws or public policy concerning health or safety, or which is fraudulent. They cannot be retaliated against in any form, whether harassment, firing, transfer, demotion or withholding of increments. McLaughlin & Nardi’s New Jersey police employment attorneys represent all types of law enforcement officers in whistleblower retaliation claims.Discrimination Claims
New Jersey police departments, sheriffs offices, corrections departments and other law enforcements agencies cannot discriminate against their employees or harass them because of their race, gender, pregnancy, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, domestic partnership or civil union status, gender identity or expression, ancestry, HIV related illnesses, mental or physical disability, genetic information, hereditary cellular or blood trait, or liability for military service. Our New Jersey law enforcement employment lawyers have significant experience representing New Jersey’s police officers in discrimination and harassment claims.Constitutional & Civil Rights Claims
New Jersey law enforcement officers do not lose their constitutional and civil rights when they put on their uniforms. In fact, they receive special protections because their employer is the government.
- First Amendment Protections. New Jersey police officers departments and other law enforcement agency employers cannot retaliate against their officers for speaking on matters of public concern.
- Due Process. “Permanent” New Jersey police officers and law enforcement employees essentially have “tenure.” This affords them a constitutionally protected right to receive due process before being disciplined or fired. This means that they are entitled to notice of the charges against them, and the opportunity to receive evidence, defend themselves and dispute the allegations.
- Equal Protection. New Jersey government employers cannot treat their employees arbitrarily or differently from other similarly situated employees without a legitimate reason.
Title 40A of New Jersey Statutes governs what is essentially “tenure” for police officers. It provides that “permanent” police officers cannot be fired, removed, suspended, fined or reduced in rank except for “just cause.” Just cause means only “incapacity, misconduct, or disobedience of rules and regulations” established by the department. Political considerations are expressly prohibited. Moreover, before any discipline can be imposed an officer must receive written notice of the charges, a hearing, and time to prepare. McLaughlin & Nardi’s New Jersey law enforcement employment attorneys represent police officers and other law enforcement employees in departmental disciplinary hearings.Civil Service & Disciplinary Hearings
Many government employers have adopted civil service protections for their employees. Civil service is designed to take politics, favoritism and nepotism out of employment decisions, and ensure that they are based solely on merit. Civil service offers specific protections to police officers and other New Jersey law enforcement officers in disciplinary matters. There is a process for fighting all disciplinary actions, from minor discipline to termination.
Likewise, New Jersey police and law enforcement officers have the right to a hearing by their employer before final discipline can be imposed, and even after the hearing there is an appeal process for both civil service and non-civil service officers.Wage and Hour Claims
Law enforcement employees at the county and local level are protected by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Although union contracts may be more generous, officers who do not fall under an exemption are entitled to overtime just like other employees, although under federal law they receive it after 216 hours in a 28 day work period, rather than after 40 hours per week. Police officers cannot be required to work “off the clock,” or to perform the same duties as a volunteer. Officers also cannot be retaliated against for objecting to wage and hour violations. McLaughlin & Nardi’s New Jersey employment attorneys represent public sector employers of all types in wage and hour litigation.
McLaughlin & Nardi’s New Jersey Law Enforcement and Police Employment Attorneys
McLaughlin & Nardi’s New Jersey law enforcement employment attorneys represent police officers and other law enforcement personnel. If your department or agency has violated your rights, e-mail us or call one of our New Jersey police employment lawyers at (973) 890-0004. We are experienced at fighting for the rights of New Jersey’s law enforcement personnel who go to work every day to serve and protect us.