WESTFIELD, NJ — Employment Lawyer Fred Shahrooz Scampato knows a bit about what it’s like to be treated as an outsider.
“Between 1977 and 1979 I lived in Tehran, Iran, while my father worked for an AT&T subsidiary and there I learned what it really was like to feel like a minority,” he explained. “I remember people looking at me and not having any interest in who I was. They judged me as an American, not as an individual. That experience allows me to find a common understanding with my clients.”
Shahrooz Scampato’s work is fueled by the belief that everyone ought to treat each other with respect.
“Treating someone differently because of their background shows a lack of respect that’s fueled by prejudice,” he explained.
His 20 years of diligent work and success on behalf of clients has not gone unnoticed. Shahrooz Scampato was recently selected for the second year in a row as a Super Lawyer in the category of employment litigation, plaintiff. The selection process for this prestigious honor is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. The list is limited to no more than five percent of all attorneys in New Jersey.
His reputation in the industry helps him resolve matters more quickly, he said, because others are aware of his reputation as an experienced employment law attorney.
“The best cases, the cases I feel best about, are cases that I don’t have to litigate, that we can often resolve with a letter and few phone calls,” said Shahrooz Scampato."
Standing up for Employees
Often, Shahrooz Scampato deals with situations where people’s civil rights may have been violated.
“In a workplace environment, each worker has the right to be free of harassment, discrimination and prejudice,” he said.
When a worker calls him, “I see my job as either trying to rectify the situation while they’re still employed and try to heal the breakdown between the employer and employee if possible or, if it’s not possible, then to be the advocate for that employee and provide them with the means to get into court and asses their civil rights violation.”
A category he sees a lot is sexual and gender harassment.
“Really, it’s fundamentally men perceiving women not as equals but as people to be dominated,” he said. “Unfortunately, you see a sexual aspect and physical dominating aspect, as well. It’s the idea that a man can get his way because he’s physically stronger. It’s something that a lot of people don’t even realize that they’re doing.”
Other times, he has successfully represented undocumented workers who found themselves exploited.
“Companies hire undocumented workers because they’re cheap, but also because there are some employers that perceive a weakness and try to capitalize on that weakness because an undocumented worker will be much less likely to complain,” he explained.
“Under our state and federal wage payment laws, an employee is required to get paid wages and overtime, regardless of their immigration status,” he said. “They are also entitled to protection from retaliation for raising complaints.”
And then there are cases when someone is wrongfully terminated because they or someone in their family became sick or injured, or because of a pregnancy.
“That’s where a person is working, they’re competent at their job, and they become injured or sick and their employer starts viewing them as a problem because they have to make accommodations or they’re more expensive,” he said. “I have successfully worked out many cases where people have been terminated because they have been injured or because of a pregnancy or there was a need for family leave.”
In addition to helping employees, Shahrooz Scampato has considerable experience working with employers at small- and medium-sized businesses to educate them about employment law. He drafts handbooks and policies for companies and conducts seminars on such topics as sexual harassment on their behalf, too.
“The goal is to make sure the companies comply fully with the law, that employees are fully apprised of their rights and that decisions regarding employment are made for the right reasons and without prejudice,” he said. “This, of course, results in keeping employers out of trouble and out of the courts.”
When employers already in trouble come to him, Shahrooz Scampato helps them come to a resolution with the employee and then makes sure there are no more problems going forward.
“Once they become compliant, there really should not be more litigation, saving them many hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result,” he said.
With the majority of discrimination trials in New Jersey resulting in a favorable verdict for the plaintiff, and with the average case costing the employer $1 million, one case is enough to bankrupt a small- or medium-size business, Shahrooz Scampato explained.
“There’s no reason that you shouldn’t hire an experienced employment law attorney to make sure you’re protected from a big jury verdict,” he said.
For more information, visit http://www.njlaborlaw.com/ or call 908-301-9095.