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New Jersey Employment Law Blog

Why some women hold back their sexual harassment claims

Anyone who has been employed, even just temporarily, has more than likely gone through new hire training. That training generally includes a section on sexual harassment in the workplace.

What is the training for? It is to show workers what sexual harassment looks like and to know how to avoid committing harassment. It is to show workers what harassment is and to advise them to speak up when it happens. This training doesn't always foster the perfect, harassement-free workplace.

Fans Of Discrimination Fight Harder

Earlier this year, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice sent a joint letter to schools regarding the treatment of transgender students. The letter provided guidance to schools on how to create a "supportive and nondiscriminatory school environment" for transgender students. The notion that students should be free from discrimination seems to be a controversial one for many. A number of states have filed suit to stop the government from even recommending ways to provide a non-discriminatory environment for students. Texas, Georgia, Maine and 10 other states are asking a Federal Judge in Fort Worth to put a stop to the recommendations, despite the fact that the letter has no legal weight and contains no penalty for states choosing to ignore it.

The letter did not establish the rights of students to be free from discrimination. The U.S. Constitution established that right with the 14th Amendment preventing states from denying people the "equal protection of the laws." While the U.S. Constitution should be enough, some states are fighting against the notion that they cannot discriminate based on gender identity or expression. These states are fighting for the right to discriminate. 

Agency Chairman Believes Driverless Cars Can Save Lives

Tens of thousands of Americans die in car and truck accidents every year. These accidents take an unbelievable toll on individuals, families and the nation as a whole. The financial impact of all these traffic accidents is measured in the billions, not millions. The head of the National Transportation Safety Board believes the self-driving cars could play a significant role in preventing this catastrophic loss of life.

NTSB chairman Christopher Hart recently wrote a blog on the topic of autonomous vehicles. The NTSB has engaged in a number of efforts recently to legitimize or at least plan for the potential of driverless vehicles. In this blog, he states a position of relatively clear advocacy for the safety potential of these cars. 

Recall Neglect And Defective Automobiles

The last two years have seen motor vehicles recalled in record numbers. In 2015 alone, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalled more than 50 million vehicles. A recent review of auto recalls conducted by J.D. Power shows that many defective cars and trucks have not received the repairs covered under the recall. Of the vehicles recalled from 2013 to 2015, 45 million have not been repaired. Those vehicles are exposing their owners and others to unnecessary risk of injury or death.

Most car accidents are the result of human error. Auto defects are rarely the cause of an accident. Even when they don't cause an accident, however, they can contribute significantly to the damage suffered by drivers and passengers in a collision. The largest recall in NHTSA history is tied to defective airbags manufactured by Takata. More than 100 million vehicles have been recalled worldwide because of these defective airbags. While defective airbags won't cause you to crash, they can seriously injure or kill you if they ever do deploy. J.D. Power's analysis shows that defective airbags are among the least likely defects to be repaired following a recall. 

Revision Of The Standards For Wage And Hour Liability

The Fair Labor Standards Act is a Federal statute that, in essence, and put simply, requires that all workers of the 50 states and territories who are not "exempt" from being entitled to overtime pay (for work in excess of 40 hours in a given week) must get that pay. It's a long statute and there are a lot of twists and turns, but that, in essence, is it.

For a long time, the "big three" exemptions for wage and hour were: professionals, administrators, and executives. These terms, in essence, are fairly obvious. If you were any one of these three things (defined by the statute), then your employer could ask you to work more than 40 hours and not give you overtime. Most people who were properly one of these three things were probably on salary anyway. 

What The Fourth Of July Really Means For America

The 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence were, admittedly, not terribly representative of today's America. All were male. All were white. All were (at least publically) straight. All were Christian. All were "rich" by the standards of the day. And 41 of them owned slaves.

They weren't perfect, either as individuals or as a group. But they had a perfect idea. Against this idea, they pledged "Our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." That comes directly from the Declaration of Independence. In response, a significant army was fielded by King George to defend his honor (at least as he perceived it) against this assault from "rebels" who were "treasonous." The British soldiers committed some significant atrocities, among them hanging people to the point of unconsciousness, then reviving them and then disemboweling them.

The signing of the Declaration wasn't, in other words, an act undertaken lightly. Clearly, the idea was important. 

"New Jersey Civil Rights attorney discusses medical errors are the leading preventable cause of death in the United States"

Johns Hopkins, one of the most respected medical research institutions in the Country, estimates in a recent study that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical mistakes. To put this number in perspective, on the Center for Disease Control's official list, that ranks medical errors just behind heart disease and cancer, which each took about 600,000 lives in 2014. It puts medical mistakes in front of respiratory diseases, which claimed about 150,000 deaths. To put it in further perspective, automobile accidents only claim about 30,000 lives each year in comparison with those other causes.

Firing Females Because the Wife of Employer is Jealous?

The article below, speaking to a case thrown out by a NY Court in which a female employee was fired by business owner's wife because wife thought the plaintiff was "too attractive," is another nail in the coffin of "gender stereotype" discrimination. This firm remains committed the belief that discriminating against someone because they display "gender" characteristics of which an employer doesn't approve - a doctrine which is supported by both Federal and New Jersey law - should be illegal and should be an appropriate avenue of redress for a harmed worker.Why should the "attractive" woman lose her job because the bosses' wife doesn't subjectively approve of the measure and mode of the plaintiff's "attractiveness quotient?" Must the attractive woman working for an insecure owner's wife "ugly up" to keep her job if she's otherwise professional in her looks and behavior?

The Profitability Of Discrimination

A number of Southern states have recently made a point to codify the right of individuals and businesses to discriminate against those who offend their religious sensibilities. These laws mirror earlier attempts to ban same-sex marriage and, before that, to ban things like desegregation and interracial marriage. In the past, corporate America would either have supported these laws or at the very least maintained silence. Lately, more and more companies have spoken out against these blatant attempts to discriminate.

While it would be wonderful to imagine a world where this represented the growth of decency, kindness and morality among business leaders, it is just as likely a response to the changing profitability of discrimination. In seeking the repeal of a North Carolina law forbidding municipalities from extending protection against discrimination beyond state guidelines, Bank of America declared the law "bad for our employees and bad for business." When a company can expect to lose quality employees and customers by discriminating or tolerating discrimination, it is more likely to act. 

Distracted Walking Could Become A Crime

Cell phones and cars are not a safe combination. Of course, that's true even when the cell phone is being used by someone crossing the street on foot, rather than driving a car. The ongoing fight to reduce the number of fatal pedestrian accidents has led one New Jersey assemblywoman to propose a bill banning the use of cell phones without hands-free devices while walking on public sidewalks. Under the bill, offenders would be subject to a fine of up to $50. Repeat offenders would face as much as 15 days in jail.

Other jurisdictions across the country have attempted to prevent pedestrians from walking while distracted, but as of yet none of the legislative efforts have been successful. The measure is unlikely to succeed here, either, but it may help bring attention to a growing problem. A survey of children between the ages of 13 and 18 found that 40 percent had been hit or nearly hit by a vehicle while walking. Of that 40 percent, nearly half were either listening to music, texting or talking on the phone.