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Hourly health care workers and wrongful termination lawsuits

Hourly health care workers provide New Jersey residents with valuable services. They are responsible for delivering our children as well as helping to provide comfort and care for our elderly citizens. Medical facilities such as doctors' offices, hospitals and nursing homes often task those health care workers with potentially life-threatening duties. Whether it's connecting a patient to intravenous drugs or sterilizing instruments used in surgical procedures. We rely on our health care workers to perform their duties accurately and reliably. Moreover, we expect them to perform those functions sometimes to the point of physical exhaustion.

The New Jersey Legislature understands the potential public hazard posed by physically exhausted workers in the healthcare industry. In order to prevent overworked employees from making critical mistakes and to improve overall efficiency New Jersey has implemented labor laws geared towards limiting the maximum workweek for certain hourly health care workers.

Currently, employers cannot require health care workers who are involved in providing direct patient care activities or clinical services to work in excess of 40 hours per week. The workweek limitation rule also contains provisions within it that prevent employers from retaliating against those workers who refuse to participate in voluntary overtime.

These provisions can be quite severe too. For example, any employer who knowingly and willfully violates the workweek limit can be fined and jailed depending on the circumstances. Employers are also forbidden from taking adverse actions against those workers such as terminating or suspending them for making a complaint to the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

If you suspect your employer may have discriminated against you, then you should consult with a New Jersey employment rights attorney. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be entitled to sue for compensation of financial or personal losses due to your employer's discriminatory or retaliatory actions against you.

Source: State of New Jersey - Department of Labor and Workforce Development, "34:11-56a33. Excessive work shift contrary to public policy" accessed Mar. 19, 2015

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