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New Hampshire's workforce is a diverse tapestry of individuals contributing their skills and expertise to various sectors. With over 850,000 people employed in 2022, a significant portion of the state's population relies on employment for their livelihood. While the healthcare, retail trade, and education sectors are major drivers of economic activity, they also present unique challenges for workers. 

Beyond the inherent demands of their jobs, some employees face additional hurdles in the form of discrimination. While such instances are relatively rare, they can have a profound impact on individuals and their families. In 2022, the number of discrimination claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission increased by 36.7% compared to the previous year, highlighting the need for a deeper understanding of employment rights.

It's crucial to distinguish between employment law and labor law. Employment law governs the relationship between employers and employees, encompassing aspects such as hiring practices, employee benefits, and workplace discrimination. Labor law, on the other hand, deals specifically with labor unions and their role in representing workers' interests.

With that in mind, this article delves into the intricacies of employment law in New Hampshire. It provides an overview of relevant regulations and addresses common concerns, like sick leave policies, minimum wage rates, child labor, and wrongful termination. Additionally, it outlines the deadlines associated with filing employment-related claims, ensuring that individuals are aware of their rights and protections.

New Hampshire Wage and Hour Laws

Minimum Wage

Stagnant since 2010, New Hampshire's minimum wage of $7.25 per hour anchors it as the New England region's lowest. In fact, Rhode Island, the region's second-lowest minimum wage payer, stands at $13 an hour, a staggering 69% higher than New Hampshire's rate. Notably, New Hampshire lacks any city or county ordinance that deviates from the statewide minimum wage.

Note that some workers are exempt from the minimum rate. These individuals include outside sales representatives, newspaper carriers, and golf caddies. Likewise, employees earning $30 monthly in tips receive an hourly base wage of at least 45% of the minimum rate. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that there are laws protecting individuals from employers who commit wage-related violations. One must contact the New Hampshire Department of Labor to report such instances. The deadline for filing a claim with NHDOL is 36 months from the date the wages were supposed to be paid. Businesses found in violation of wage laws face penalties, including fines of up to $2,500.

Wage Payment

Employers in New Hampshire are obligated to pay their employees' wages within eight days of the week when the work is completed. This applies to employers who compensate their workers on a weekly basis. For those who pay their employees on a biweekly schedule, state law mandates payments within 15 days from the end of the work week.

Specific regulations govern final pay for employees who quit, are fired, or are laid off. These laws vary depending on the circumstances involved. For instance, individuals whose jobs were terminated must receive their last paycheck within 72 hours of the termination. Employees who are laid off due to redundancy must receive their wages by their next regular payday. For those who resign, there is an option to request their final paycheck within 72 hours of their resignation date, provided they have given at least one pay period's notice.

Payroll Deductions

In New Hampshire, employers are permitted to deduct wages from employees' paychecks only under specific circumstances outlined by federal or state laws. These deductions must be authorized in writing by the employee and are generally limited to costs that directly benefit them, such as welfare pension payments, union dues, voluntary charitable contributions, and contributions to non-employer savings funds.

However, there are instances where wage deductions are strictly prohibited. For example, employers are solely responsible for covering the expenses of mandatory uniforms and cannot deduct these costs from employees' wages, even if the employee fails to return the uniform.

Overtime Rules

In general, employees are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their regular pay rate if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. However, some workers are exempt from these overtime pay laws, including:

  • Summer camp workers.

  • Newspaper delivery workers.

  • Farm laborers.

  • Employees who make over $107,432 annually.

Some businesses may attempt to avoid paying overtime by misclassifying their employees as independent contractors. However, this is illegal if the worker does not have independent control over their work hours.

Additionally, the duration of a worker's relationship with an employer can be a factor in determining whether they are an employee or an independent contractor. If they have a short-term or occasional relationship with the employer, they may be considered an independent contractor.

To ensure that all workers are fairly compensated for their overtime hours, the Task Force on the Misclassification of NH Workers encourages employees deprived of their overtime pay to fill out an online form. This information will be used to investigate potential misclassification practices.

Sick Leaves

While New Hampshire employers are not legally obligated to provide paid sick leave, some companies voluntarily offer this benefit as part of their employee policies. Alternatively, employers can participate in the New Hampshire Paid Family and Medical Leave Plan, an insurance program that provides eligible employees up to 60% of their wages for a maximum of six weeks per year, subject to the Social Security wage cap.

Employers can purchase a group plan, or employees can enroll in an individual plan if their employer does not offer NHPFML or an equivalent benefit. The NHPFML covers leaves taken for various reasons, including recovering from a serious health condition, caring for a family member with a severe medical condition, or bonding with a newborn or adopted child during the first year. 

New Hampshire Workplace Discrimination Laws

New Hampshire has laws in place to safeguard workers from discrimination. The prejudicial or unfair treatment of employees can manifest in various ways. Some of these forms include discrimination based on:

  • Age.

  • Sex.

  • Race. 

  • Color. 

  • Marital status. 

  • National origin. 

  • Gender identity. 

  • Religious creed. 

  • Mental or physical disability.

One thing to note is that these laws apply to employers with at least six employees. Both private employers and state agencies — such as departments, boards, and commissions — are required to observe these.

Such regulations do not apply to certain organizations, including non-profit social clubs and corporations. These are either recognized by the New Hampshire Secretary of State or the IRS.

Another thing to keep in mind is the matter of reasonable accommodation. This concept refers to the right of workers with disabilities to access tools or practices that help them perform their jobs. Reasonable accommodation, as implied by its name, must not cause undue hardship to the employer. 

Some examples of tools or practices that can be considered feasible for businesses to provide are: 

  • Sign language interpreters.

  • Talk-to-text computer programs.

  • Additional work breaks. 

Laws on Labor Unions in New Hampshire

Labor unions are groups established by workers in a specific industry or profession with the goal of enhancing their working conditions. In New Hampshire, labor laws are specifically tailored to public-sector employees. These individuals work for institutions such as state community colleges and universities, as well as commissions and local governments.

Some examples of these unions include: 

  • New Hampshire Troopers Association.

  • Internal Affairs Association of NH. 

  • The State Employees’ Association of NH - Corrections Supervisors. 

Public employees have rights that enable them to advocate for benefits like flexible work schedules and job training programs. One such right is the ability to form unions. Another is the freedom to negotiate collective bargaining agreements.

However, strikes are prohibited. If workers withhold their services, their employer can request a TRO from the superior court. 

Child Labor Laws in New Hampshire

Ensuring the safety and well-being of young workers is a vital goal of New Hampshire's child labor laws. These regulations aim to shield minors from hazardous and unhealthy work environments while also safeguarding their educational opportunities.

To ensure compliance, specific requirements are in place based on the child's age. For children between the ages of 12 and 15, parents must complete a Youth Employment Certificate, which must be submitted to the employer within three working days of the child's first day on the job. Parents of 16- and 17-year-olds, on the other hand, must complete a Parental Permission Form, which must be provided to the employer before the child's first shift.

There are other things to note with regard to youth employment. For example, jobs in food service, retail, and gasoline establishments are permitted for 14- and 15-year-olds. However, there are some caveats in the form of limitations, which include:

  • Not using power-driven mowers but using vacuum cleaners as part of cleanup work. 

  • Not inflating tires with a rim that contains a removable retaining ring but dispensing oil and gas as part of automotive work. 

Certain occupations are off-limits for all ages under 18. Jobs in sectors like coal mining, meat packing, and roofing are prohibited. Tasks involving the use of machines for metal forming, baking, and paper product making are likewise illegal. 

Despite these regulations, some New Hampshire businesses have been found to be in violation of child labor laws. In 2022, various fast-food locations were fined for allowing minors to operate deep-fat fryers, while a restaurant was penalized for permitting excessive work hours. Additionally, a rehab center was found to have underpaid its workers for overtime.

Another concerning trend observed by state authorities is the practice of hiring young workers without obtaining parental permission. This practice, unfortunately, ranks as the seventh most common wage-and-hour violation in New Hampshire.

Ultimately, non-compliance with child labor laws can result in significant penalties for businesses. Employers may face fines of up to $10,000 per violation and even criminal charges in some cases.

Is New Hampshire an At-Will Employment State?

Yes, New Hampshire follows the at-will employment doctrine, allowing both employers and employees to end the employment relationship at any time for any reason. However, this doctrine has limitations.

For example, employers cannot terminate employees based on discriminatory factors such as age, disability, gender, or race. Additionally, at-will employment does not apply to workers who have signed employment contracts, which typically outline specific conditions for termination. If an employer fires a contracted employee for reasons outside the contract's terms, it constitutes a breach of contract.

What Qualifies as Wrongful Termination in New Hampshire?

Wrongful termination refers to the decision of employers to fire workers for illegal reasons. One unlawful justification to let someone go is discrimination. Factors like gender identity, age, or marital status must be irrelevant in the employment termination process. 

There are other situations where workers are protected from wrongful termination. These include: 

  • Jury duty: Employers cannot threaten to fire or terminate employees who respond to a summons for jury duty.

  • Wage garnishment: Employees whose wages were garnished because of child support cannot be fired under New Hampshire law. It also specifies that such obligations extend to payments dedicated to medical purposes.

Additionally, employers cannot fire employees who report how the business engages in illegal activities. Under the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, harassment, intimidation, or abuse against workers is unlawful. This law is crucial to exposing acts of malpractice and forcing organizations to change their practices. Indeed, a whistleblower lawsuit against a Manchester-based healthcare provider resulted in more than $500,000 in damages for the plaintiff. 

In cases involving mass layoffs, businesses are prohibited from letting go of employees without prior notice. This warning needs to be sent to workers within 60 days before the layoffs take effect. Businesses that do not follow notice requirements face penalties like fines. The New Hampshire Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act defines a mass layoff as either: 

  • The loss of employment for at least 250 full-time workers employed at a single site within a 30-day period. 

  • The loss of employment for at least 25 full-time workers who make up 33% of the employer’s full-time staff. 

Overall, knowing these laws regarding mass layoffs is crucial, especially in New Hampshire. After all, the state is no stranger to news of companies shutting down operations. In 2023, a private university cut the jobs of 37 employees based in the state. In the same year, a nutrition company told its workers in Nashua and Portsmouth that it was closing shop.

How Do You Report an Employer in New Hampshire for Wrongful Termination?

Employees who believe they have been wrongfully terminated can file a complaint with the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights. The NHCHR will investigate the claim and encourage both parties to resolve the dispute through voluntary mediation, a confidential process that can help parties reach a speedy resolution.

If the case cannot be settled through mediation, the NHCHR will complete its investigation and determine if there is probable cause that the employer committed an illegal act. If so, the NHCHR may hold a hearing to resolve the case.

To report a discrimination case, employees must fill out an intake form and send the document through email at or via postal mail. Individuals can also contact the NHCHR through a call at 603-271-2767. 

In addition, workers may file a discrimination claim before the EEOC. Unlike the NHCHR, the EEOC office is located outside the state — in Boston, Massachusetts. Similar to the NHCHR, though, the EEOC offers a voluntary mediation program to both parties. To contact the office, individuals need to call 1-800-669-4000.

Note that employees are not required to choose between filing a complaint with the NHCHR and the EEOC. The two agencies have a work-sharing agreement, which means they will collaborate on similar cases.

If an employee is dissatisfied with the outcome of their claim with either agency, they may choose to file a lawsuit in court. An experienced employment attorney can provide guidance on the litigation process.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Termination Cases in New Hampshire?

The deadline for submitting a case before the NHCHR is 180 days from the day of the alleged discrimination. This timeframe can be extended to 300 days, though. The worker must contact the NHCHR to determine whether their claim is still valid after 180 days.

For cases before the EEOC, the deadline depends on multiple factors. The table below illustrates how timeframes vary.

Basis of Discrimination

Number of Employees

Deadline for Filing Claim

Color, national origin, sex, race, religion, and/or disability 

15 or more 

300 days 


20 or more 

300 days 

Color, national origin, sex, race, religion, and/or disability

Fewer than 15 

180 days


Fewer than 20 

180 days

These periods do not apply in other situations, such as when an employer fires a worker for attending jury duty. In such a situation, the employee may file a wrongful termination claim within a year of the termination date. 

There is also a three-year deadline, which applies in cases involving whistleblowers. The same timeframe is used in wrongful termination cases that consist of breach of contract. Note that contracts can either be oral or written.

How Much Can Someone Sue an Employer in New Hampshire for Wrongful Termination?

The amount of damages an employee can receive in a wrongful termination case depends on several factors, including whether they have a single claim or multiple claims for discrimination. In other words, employees can file lawsuits against their employers for multiple unlawful acts, such as retaliation and sexual harassment.

Damages in wrongful termination cases fall into two categories, which are intended to compensate the employee for their economic and non-economic losses. Economic damages include out-of-pocket expenses, like medical bills, lost wages, and lost benefits. Non-economic damages include emotional distress, pain and suffering, and damage to reputation.

Two types of compensatory damages that may be awarded in wrongful termination cases are:

  • Back pay: This is the compensation for work the employee already performed but was not paid for, as well as compensation for work the employee could have performed if they had not been wrongfully terminated.

  • Front pay: This is the compensation for future losses the employee may experience, like reputational damage or loss of experience.

Punitive damages, unlike compensatory damages, are not intended to compensate the employee for their losses. Instead, they are meant to punish the employer for their wrongdoing and deter them from repeating such conduct in the future. Note that New Hampshire courts do not award punitive damages in wrongful termination cases.

Keep in mind that in cases involving discrimination, the amount of damages individuals can recover is limited. As the table below illustrates, these caps are based on the size of the employer.

Number of employees 

Limit on damages

15 to 100 


101 to 200


201 to 500 


More than 500


Resources for Employees in New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, a network of organizations stands ready to assist individuals struggling to overcome their employment difficulties. The resources below empower workers with the guidance and support they need to overcome these challenges.

New Hampshire Employment Security

New Hampshire Employment Security is an agency that assists unemployed individuals throughout the state. It operates the Unemployment Compensation Bureau, which helps eligible claimants receive access to benefits. Individuals may call 603-271-7700 for information regarding the program. The hotline’s operating hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

Disability Rights Center - NH

The Disability Rights Center - NH works to advocate and protect the interests of individuals with diverse needs through various services. These include vocational rehabilitation. Its staff members assist people through the creation of an Individualized Plan for Employment, which describes their job goals that are consistent with their interests and abilities. 

This plan enables the center to pinpoint the type of assistance necessary, like hearing aids and psychiatric medications, to help individuals obtain employment. One can receive information regarding vocational rehabilitation by calling 603-228-0432 or 1-800-834-1721.

Nashua Center

The Nashua Center has been serving the community for more than four decades. It promotes independence and delivers specialized care to eligible individuals through various services. One of these is a program that assists adults with acquired brain disorders. This solution helps them obtain employment opportunities and access physical therapy sessions. Individuals may call 603-883-6163 to receive information regarding the center’s programs.

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