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New Jersey Employment Law Blog

The Changing Face Of Traffic Deaths

In the United States, the rate of fatalities caused by traffic accidents has steadily decreased in recent years. The Fatal Analysis Reporting System is the tool used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to better understand deadly crashes. According to FARS data, 2014 was perhaps the safest year on record for American drivers. The fatality rate of 1.07 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was the lowest ever recorded. Unfortunately, the preliminary numbers for 2015 are not as promising.

While the NHTSA will not release final crash data for 2015 until this time next year, it has released an estimate based on the first six months of the year. The estimate is subject to revision and may not be reflective of the final number once the calendar year is complete. That said, 2015 is shaping up to be a poor follow-up to the safety gains of 2014. 

The Gender Component Of Age Discrimination

Age discrimination is a serious problem in the employment world. New Jersey and federal laws protect workers from adverse employment actions based on age. A recent study indicates that age discrimination might often be another form of discrimination in disguise. According to the National Economic Bureau of Research, women are substantially more likely to be discriminated against based on age than men. The study suggested that age discrimination is largely another way to penalize female workers.

This is hardly a unique scenario. Sexual harassment and violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can affect male and female employees. They just tend to be directed more frequently at working women. I guess we can add age discrimination to the pay gap and glass ceilings in discussing all the ways women get the short end of the stick in the working world. 

Drowsy Drivers A Common Problem

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently conducted a forum on the problem of drowsy driving. The forum, entitled Asleep at the Wheel, was part of National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. It included discussions over the breadth of the problem and potential methods of addressing drowsy driving.

According to the head administrator of the NHTSA, drowsy driving accidents claim somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 lives each year nationwide. The AAA completed a survey of drivers and found that 43 percent acknowledged having fallen asleep or "nodded off" behind the wheel at some point. Nearly 40 percent of drivers between 19 and 24 years of age admitted to driving while "struggling to keep their eyes open" within the prior month. An earlier study by the AAA found that 16.5 percent of fatal traffic accidents are caused by drowsy driving.

Stopping Sexual Harassment

In New Jersey, state and federal laws protect workers from sexual harassment. This is not a new development. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sex discrimination. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and has been prohibited for more than half a century. Unfortunately, 50 years does not seem to be long enough for many employers to get the message. Sexual harassment is still a leading cause of action pursued against employers all over the country.

Rather than adapting to minimum standards of decency, may perpetrators seek to put the blame on the victims. Workers are discouraged from reporting sexual harassment in obvious and subtle ways. Countless employees are pressured into quitting or into quietly tolerating outrageous behavior because they don't feel like they can assert their rights. For far too long, the pressure has remained entirely, or at least primarily, on the victims of sexual harassment.

Safety Agency Changes Position On School Bus Seat Belts

Wearing a seat belt is one of the best things you can do to improve your chances of surviving a car accident. Seat belts save lives. That has been proven time and again in studies going back decades. So why is it that children riding school buses are often exempt from seat belt requirements? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has long held the stance that large school buses should not be required to have seat belts. New Jersey is one of six states that ignored the NHTSA position and made seat belts on school buses mandatory. The NHTSA has now altered its position and will push to make sure that children on all types of school bus have a three-point seat belt to keep them secure.

It is true that the occupants of larger vehicles fare better in the event of a collision. The size of a large school bus offers some protection for the children inside. There is no reason, however, to offset that advantage by leaving the children in a vulnerable, unbuckled state. Moreover, the fact that children do not have to wear seat belts on many school buses may contribute to a reluctance to wear them in other situations. Wearing a seat belt should be a habit. Requiring a seat belt every time, in every situation can only help encourage children to adopt the practice later in life. 

New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Trial Lawyer Discusses Missouri Court's decision that it's ok to call a gay employee "cock sucker" and ask if he has AIDS

James Pittman sued the Kansas City based Cook Paper Recycling Corporation last year, alleging that he was fired in 2001 after 7 years. His theory was that he was fired because he was gay. A lower Missouri court had previously dismissed Pittman's suit, and a three panel appeals court upheld that ruling last week (the week of October 26th) in a "split decision." Two Judges were in the majority and said that the Missouri "human rights act" covers only gender, and not sexual orientation.

Now, to be fair, the federal law doesn't cover this, either. In fact, the Non-discrimination in Employment Act (ENDA) has been bouncing around for, if memory serves, about 25 years, and it's never been passed. Why has it never been passed? Because the very loud and obnoxious "biblical right" in The United States constantly threatens any politician who considers equal rights for LGBT people. That's why ENDA has not yet been passed and why, in the immediate future, especially with a "red" Congress, it certainly won't be. 

Complaints About A Mover?

You're not alone, but you have rights. 

Often times we use movers at the most exciting times in our lives - buying a new home, setting off on a new adventure or delivering a new purchase. Unfortunately, these movers sometimes make mistakes and take advantage of their customers. They're late, they bring the wrong size truck, they bump you to another day, or perhaps worst of all they damage or lose your property. Public movers must provide safe, proper and adequate service. When they don't, they have violated the laws governing their industry. If you have attempted to communicate with your moving company about one of these issues you may have found that they are less than receptive. They may give you the run-around, refer you to others within the company or simply fail to call you back.

Insurance Company Gives Good Advice To Employers

To hear some employers tell it, avoiding lawsuits for employment law violations is incredibly complex. The truth is that many violations of worker rights involve employers trying to save money or avoid the hassle of firing obviously inappropriate personnel. It is not difficult for employers to obey the state and federal laws protecting employees. Many simply choose not to. An insurance company whose clients include many small- and medium-sized businesses recently conducted a study of employee lawsuits against employers. The advice that came out of that study is that simple measures all employers should have in place would prevent many of these lawsuits.

The study, conducted by specialty insurer Hiscox, identified four areas for employers to focus in avoiding employment law violations. Those areas included:

  • Same-sex marriage
  • Discrimination against transgender employees
  • Minimum wage laws
  • Immigration

The states where employee lawsuits were most common often had laws extending beyond the protections offered by federal law in these categories. 

Have We Prevented Bullying?

October is Bullying Prevention month. Now that November is nearly upon us, perhaps we should take a look at efforts to address the problem of bullying. Shining a spotlight on the problem might be effective for a time, but when the spotlight is turned off, what is there to stop the cockroaches from coming out of their hiding places? Bullying prevention isn't an issue for October. It's an issue for children and adults all year long.

The proliferation of anti-bullying laws nationwide has undoubtedly had an impact on school bullying. The laws vary in effectiveness, however, and are not enough on their own to resolve the issue. Teachers, administrators and parents must do their parts to ensure that children are free from the fear, humiliation and degradation of bullying. To do that, they must help foster a culture where children are not rewarded for bullying. While bullies engage in their abusive behavior for many reasons, the simplest is that they receive a tangible benefit from dominating others. 

What To Tell Your Teen Drivers

Car accidents are a serious problem for teen drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic accidents were the top cause of death for people 15 to 20 years old in the U.S. in 2013. Teen drivers lack the experience to make the fast and accurate decisions needed to avoid danger. Parents have a large role to play in helping their teen drivers stay safe. The NHTSA is currently celebrating National Teen Driver Safety Week. In recognition of this, the NHTSA is asking parents of teen drivers to join their campaign, '5 to Drive.'

The campaign focuses on five issues central to teen safety on the roads. Parents are asked to tell their teens five things to focus on to be safe. Don't drink alcohol and drive. Don't speed. Don't use your cell phone while driving. Don't drive with extra passengers. Wear your seat belt. If teens followed these guidelines, many injuries and fatalities could be avoided. Inexperience can only become over time. Risky driving behaviors can be eliminated at the outset with the right emphasis by parents and guardians.