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Evesham Employment Law Blog

Pedestrian Safety And Quiet Cars

Comprehensive, "cradle to grave" studies of electric versus gas and diesel-powered cars show that electric vehicles are better for the environment. As the technology gains acceptance, electric vehicles will likely become better and cheaper. More electric cars on the road means a number of benefits, but it is not without challenges.

Accidents in which pedestrians and bicycle riders are struck by electric cars that they never knew were coming are happening more frequently. Electric cars are often significantly quieter than their gas and diesel counterparts. That removes one cue used by pedestrians and bikers to beware of a vehicle approaching from behind. In response to this problem, Congress passed a law in 2010 to make the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issue a regulation forcing the makers of electric vehicles and other quiet cars to add sounds to their products. The NHTSA missed its deadline to issue that rule and is now estimating that the final rule won't be complete until April 2015. Automakers are asking that the compliance deadlines be delayed.

New Plan For Newark Schools A Case Of Race Discrimination?

Few would argue that the public school system in Newark, New Jersey, is fine the way it is. Change is clearly needed in the largest public school system in the state. The schools in the town of 277,000 residents regularly rank among the lowest performing in New Jersey. The need for change does not, however, justify a new system if it discriminates against black students.

According to a complaint filed by a parents' group, 51 percent of Newark public school students are black. The changes outlined to improve the school system, a plan known as "One Newark," allegedly do not impact those students equally. According to the area branch of Parents Unified for Local School Education, 86 percent of the students directly impacted by One Newark are black. White students make up 8 percent of the Newark public school population, but would only make up 1 percent of those affected by the plan.

New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Attorney Discusses Contractual Limitations of Statutes of Limitation

"Or . . . pigs are never satisfied till they eat everything in sight."

And by "pigs," I mean greedy employers who sense that the time is right to continue to push nervous courts (nervous about not being reappointed by a governor who meddles by intimidating the third branch of government and threatening non-appointment with those he doesn't agree with) to further limit workers' rights.

New Jersey's Supreme Court is considering a case in which the defendant, furniture store Raymour & Flanigan, limited the "statute of limitations" - the time period in which a person has to consider whether or not they wish to file a suit.

And how did Raymour & Flanigan limit this time period? In a job application. In other words, if you want to even be considered for employment, you've got to start giving up rights before you even work a minute.

Ignition Interlock Laws And Traffic Deaths

An ignition interlock device forces a driver to blow into a machine similar to a breathalyzer before starting the car. If the driver has alcohol on his or her breath, the car's ignition will not work. These devices are intended to help prevent drunk driving deaths as evidence has shown that a person who is convicted of DUI faces a high probability of driving drunk again.

In New Jersey, a first-time DUI offender may be ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed in his or her vehicle for 6-12 months after driver's license restoration. If the driver's blood alcohol content was 0.15 or higher, ignition interlock installation is mandatory. The laws concerning these devices vary from state to state. New federal legislation introduced this month has the potential to make these devices much more common.

Drowsy Driving Among Truckers An 'Open Secret'

In 2013, the federal rules regarding hours of service for interstate truck and bus drivers changed. The maximum workweek was reduced from 82 hours to 70 hours. In addition, the rest needed to "restart" a week was set at 34 hours which must include two consecutive periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. The justification for that last change was studies showing the importance of nighttime rest in preventing fatigue. It's true that the government can't force truck and bus drivers to get enough sleep. They can, however, see the toll taken by tired drivers and do what they can to encourage drivers to get adequate rest.

Drowsy driving causes an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 deadly accidents every year. Commercial drivers are among the most likely to drive tired, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite these facts, many in the trucking industry are fighting back against the new hours of service rules. A Republican Senator from Maine recently sent an amendment through Committee to freeze the new rules. The critics contend that the benefits of requiring commercial drivers to take two nights off to potentially rest have not been proven through studies. They also contend that the rules put more truck drivers on the roads during periods of heavy traffic.

New Distracted Driving Penalties In Place

New Jersey law prohibits the use of handheld cellular phones while driving. Anyone caught talking or texting on a handheld cell phone while driving faces a fine. As of this month, the fines issued for this form of distracted driving have a little more bite to them. A first time offense of handheld cell phone use behind the wheel will net a fine between $200 and $400. Second-time offenders can be fined $400 to $600. Every offense beyond the second can be penalized with a $600 to $800 fine, as well as suspension of your driver's license for 90 days and three points off your license. It remains to be seen whether the increase in fines will encourage greater enforcement of the distracted driving law.

Cell phones and other electronic devices take a driver's attention away from the important work of driving safely. The law against handheld cell phone use, while imperfect, does target a dangerous behavior. The momentary inattention of a driver can have tragic, even fatal consequences. Even if you were capable of operating your cell phone without taking your eyes off the wheel, you cannot do so without taking your attention off of safe driving. The increase in distracted driving accidents can be traced to the rise in popularity of smart phones. Whether they are effective or not, the heavier fines will hopefully convince people that it isn't worth the risk to use the phone while driving.

An Openly Gay Football Player is Good for Business? Who'da Thunk it?

A New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Attorney Discusses Michael Sam, the First Openly Gay Player in the NFL

First of all, I'm not going to assume that everyone reading this blog knows football, so let me explain something.

The NFL draft takes place over several days and involves many hundreds of players. The drafts are conducted in "rounds", where each of the NFL teams get to pick players in an order determined by that team's record in the previous season (the better the team's record, the worse their next year's draft position). Teams often trade their right to pick in certain order and in certain rounds, or they trade the players that they intend to pick (or do pick) for other considerations. Also, the higher a player is picked in the draft, the more money they can negotiate for by way of salary. The guys who get the most money are the guys that are picked in the first round, and of those guys, the guys that are picked first, second, third, fourth, etc., get the most money of all. So with that in mind, you can appreciate that out of all the players in the NFL draft, the fact that Michael Sam was picked eighth-to-last in the draft overall doesn't bode well for his "top money" prospects.  But, even if he makes the league minimum, which given where he went in the draft, he almost certainly will, he'll still pull down over $450,000.00 a year (that's not bad for an entry level position in any job on the planet.)

So we're not talking about Michael Sam because he's the brightest star in the draft. We're talking about him, of course, because he's the first "out" gay player to be drafted it the NFL. He's made history, and so has the NFL. By implication, so have the St. Louis Rams, who drafted Michael, and so has everyone who's buying his Rams jersey. Incidentally, get a load of this: the top selling jersey days after the draft was Johnny Manziel's ("Johnny Football") - and rightly so given his prodigious talents and how high he went in the draft - but that of Michael Sam was number two. There are plenty of guys - hundreds - who went higher than Michael Sam in the draft whose jerseys weren't selling number two.

Freelance TV workers claim unpaid overtime, unfair compensation

New Jersey residents have likely heard a number of complaints regarding employee compensation throughout the years. Many times, there are fairly obvious rules about minimum payment amounts and how employees should be compensated for things like overtime. In the world of freelance work, however, those rules become grayer, letting companies create budget-friendly work situations that aren't always positive for workers.

The reality television industry has come under fire from freelance workers for issues associated with unpaid overtime. Television channels hire production companies to put together reality series, which are high-profit endeavors for the companies. According to the executive director of the America East Writer's Guild, the companies use freelancers to lower production budgets.

CIA addresses harassment in the workplace

The Associated Press recently obtained a copy of a memo sent out by the Central Intelligence Agency's Office of Equal Employment Opportunity director. In the message, the director said that out of 69 complaints of harassment in the 12 months preceding Sept. 30, 2013, the office found 15 complaints to be true. According to the memo, the offenders involved in those cases, which included racial, sexual and other harassment, were disciplined.

However, CIA officials also noted that employees complained that no one was demoted or fired because of the incidents of harassment. Instead, the offenders received letters of reprimand or counseling, were required to participate in harassment training, or were pulled from field assignments. One unnamed senior official said the point of the discipline was to deter employees from such behavior without ending their careers.

Supreme Court Ruling Allows Required Christian Prayer at Public Meetings in Greece, New York State

Or, America is slowly becoming a theocracy. How does that work for you? 
A New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Attorney discusses:

Prayer in public places and settings is a fiery subject; it tends to arouse passions. So let's get right into it, and right to the heart of the point.

The Supreme Court has once again produced a real winner, a ruling which is clearly another concession to neo-conservatives, a case decided along surprisingly, and distressingly, religious lines. The majority in the opinion are Christian males; the minority are not.

The Supreme Court gave limited approval on Monday the 5th of May to public prayers in public meetings in the town of Greece, New York State. The justices cited the country's "history of religious acknowledgment" in legislative proceedings.

The decision is another nail in the coffin of separation of church and state, and another flagstone on the road to fascist theocracy.

The anti-establishment clause of the constitution absolutely and clearly prohibits any act which would tend to establish any religious practice, and especially a specific religious practice, by or involving a government agency or a government function.

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