If you are an undocumented immigrant working in New Jersey and have suffered racial discrimination, you may have an employment law case. According to federal and New Jersey state law, a business or government agency is not allowed to discriminate against you based on race. If you think that you have been illegally discriminated against, you should discuss the matter with an employment attorney in New Jersey.
What is racial discrimination?
Racial discrimination occurs when an employer treats an individual differently than others who are similarly situated because of the individual’s race or color of his or her skin. Race discrimination can occur in combination with discrimination based on the individual’s color, age, sex, gender identity or expression, religion, ancestry, genetic information, and national origin. Racial discrimination can involve treating a particular individual better or worse than other people simply because of that person’s race.
You do not have to be a member of a “minority” to be discriminated against. A number of American businesses demonstrate “Hispanic preference,” meaning that they fire, demote, or discipline individuals who are not Hispanic/Latino. The primary question you must ask yourself is, “Was I treated differently because of my race?”
What are your rights?
You are entitled to:
• Earn the minimum wage per hour ($8.38 as of January 1, 2015);
• Be paid for all hours worked, including overtime and other types of mandatory pay;
• File a wage and hour claim with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and have that claim be anonymous until the investigation is closed;
• Not be subjected to a hostile work environment;
• Not to be retaliated against for complaining about your work environment and wages; and
• Work in an environment in which you are not illegally discriminated against.
If you are an independent contractor and not an employee, New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (N.J.S.A. 10:5-12) (LAD) makes it unlawful for the employer who is a party to the business contract with you to discriminate against you because of your race.
An employer can refuse to hire you because you are an undocumented immigrant. An employer can reduce your rate of pay as long as he or she gives you advance notice of the reduction. New Jersey state law provides you with no right to a mandatory break or meal period unless you are a minor under the age of 18.
Can I bring a lawsuit in state or federal court?
Only an attorney can tell you whether the circumstances of your case provide you with grounds to sue your employer. Typically, an attorney will ask if you want to negotiate a financial settlement before you think of filing a lawsuit.
With the exception of a few sensitive types of criminal and civil cases, all parties to a lawsuit are named in legal documents. This means that your name will become part of the public record. Documents in the court’s file can be discovered and reviewed by the State of New Jersey and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This may be a concern for you.
In some cases, you may not be entitled to certain types of relief unless and until you have gained legal status. Your attorney can explain when your relief may be limited.
What John J. Zidziunas & Associates Can Do For You
If your employer has discriminated against you because of your race and you are an undocumented immigrant, you may be entitled to a monetary settlement.
If you need help with one of these violations, contact a race discrimination attorney in New Jersey at John J. Zidziunas & Associates. Call (973) 509-8500 today.
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