Employment Law Questions? Ask an Employment Lawyer.
Dear New Jersey:
It is against the law for an employer to treat an employee differently because they are in a protected class - one based on race, religion, national origin, sex, and so on.
However, as unfair as it seems, unless their is a written policy, contract, or manual in place that says differently, there are no federal or state laws that says that an employer has to give preference to someone with experience. There are also no federal or state laws that say that an employer cannot show favoritism to friends.
I am sorry I don't have better news for you.