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Evesham Employment Law Blog

New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Attorney Discuss the "Ban the Box" Bill

Governor Chris Christie signed the "Opportunity to Compete Act" into law on August 11, 2014, also known as the "Ban the Box" law. This new law will no longer allow employers to ask applicants to check a box saying whether they have been convicted of a crime. This is a needed fix to a "silent" problem which has long existed, but which has gone unaddressed because the victims are ex-cons, a constituency most people don't much care about.

So often, the minute an employer sees the box "convicted of a crime" checked, the applicant is out of luck, no matter their other qualities, no matter their earnestness. The new law prevents the employer from making this initial "cut" in the application form process. Yet there are limitations to the law. Employers are only barred from asking during the initial application process whether the applicant has been convicted of a crime. That means that background checks can still occur after the initial process. Past criminal histories can still be a determining factor as to whether or not an individual will be considered for a position by an employer but at least those individuals will be initially considered if qualified for that position. And if an employer violates the law, there's no lawsuit which can be filed by a victim discriminated against in this fashion. It's a law without teeth, but at least there's gums.

Study Focuses On Truck Driver Salary And Safety

It is no secret that employers will pay employees as little as possible to maximize profits. The law sets a floor for hourly wage, though some companies attempt to get below even that paltry figure. The impact of wages, particularly low wages, on employee health and morale is concerning in many industries. In the trucking industry, pay practices may even have a detrimental impact on safety. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is now conducting a study to better understand the relationship between how much drivers earn and how safely they operate their vehicles.

Trucking industry representatives have bemoaned a shortage of qualified truck drivers for some time. The problem is expected to grow in the future as the industry grows and the current crop of drivers retire or lose the ability to drive safely. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average commercial driver in the U.S. is 55. The industry has had significant trouble attracting younger drivers to accept the working conditions and salary offered by most companies.

New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Attorney Discusses "Nelson Mandela Day"

Or . . . Everything I need to know about being a lawyer I learned from Nelson Mandela. 

Of course, I don't really mean that Mandela taught me to be a lawyer, or that his lessons, above those of any others (including my parents, for starters) are the "primary" reasons I became a lawyer or guide my practice toward certain behaviors and values.

On the other hand, when someone says "everything I need to know I learned from...", what they're really saying is that they consider the particular source to be an important moral, ethical, political or other lesson to which people ought pay heed.

And Mr. Mandela has earned some heed, worldwide.

Nelson Mandela lived quite a long and distinguished life. If we measure the most valuable wisdom as that coming from the greatest pain and suffering, then Nelson Mandela had a deep well of hard-won wisdom by the time he left the world. His wisdom emerges from some of his most memorable statements. I recently had the pleasure of reading an excellent blog from a fellow trial lawyer who spoke about Nelson Mandela. Shamelessly copying his approach, I've taken the same quotes and applied them to my life and my practice, as he did.

What impressed me the most about Nelson Mandela was the dignity with which he endured what he endured, and the grace with which he conducted himself when his durance ended. Far too often, the first thought that someone has when "durance vile" ends is to seek revenge, to vent your anger on the world. As we see in the world today, anger is too often the prime driver of individual, group and national conduct. Nelson Mandela embodies a lesson from which everyone can benefit.

Three things every pregnant employee should know

While the U.S. economy appears to be adding more jobs this summer, the struggles that pregnant women have in finding (and keeping) jobs is largely ignored. Basically, not every employer wants to hire a pregnant woman. Additionally, some employers do not understand the rules that protect pregnant workers and prohibit certain actions against them. Because of this, it is important for pregnant workers to know their rights and be able to protect themselves against overzealous employers.

This post will provide some helpful tips.

Trial Run For V2V Technology Regulation

Some technological advancements can be counted on to take root in the market on their own. There is a reason cars no longer come equipped with 8-track players. Some technology must be pushed by regulators because the profit-incentive is lacking for automakers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has taken an early step along the path of requiring the implementation of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology in new cars and trucks. The NHTSA has released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on the issue. It has opened up several issues to public comment to gather feedback on what should be included in the eventual rule.

Automakers might be reluctant to expend much effort into V2V technology because it is only useful when other vehicles on the road have the same capability. Early adopters might not recognize any benefits to having the devices installed in their vehicles. The NHTSA is hoping to overcome that problem by forcing all new cars and trucks to have V2V capability as of 2016.

New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Attorney Discusses Veteran's Administration Scandal

"Or . . . Are You Really Surprised?"

The American cultural zeitgeist has always enjoyed (suffered?) what can only be described as a quixotic relationship with our military. All at once covered in "glory" and at the same time pitied for the poor treatment people who wore the uniform suffer in civilian life, we've never really even been able to establish a clear priority as to how we want to deal with our military, both while they serve and after.

In order to have a plain common sense discussion about the shameful (and lethal, for a number of Veterans) scandal emerging from the Veteran's Administration, we all have to agree on a few fundamental truths.

First of all, despite strides made, America is still divided between the "have's" and the "have not's." I'm certainly not going to argue that every service person comes from no higher than a middle class (or far more commonly, lower than middle class) background, but we all know the truth is that service people tend to come overwhelmingly from the bottom twenty-five percent to thirty-three percent of the American income profile. I have no doubt that there are many families who can be counted among the "have's" (at least economically) for whom military service is a desired and honored family tradition, but that's not the norm; it's the exception. The "norm" is that most young people enter the military because it's their best chance for getting out of whatever poor social or economic situation describes their childhood. Because it's the best chance for training for a job or career. Because it's a way to get college cheaply or for free.

Programming Morality In Autonomous Vehicles

Avoiding a car accident can be a matter of split-second decision making and perfect timing. Sometimes, even the most attentive and skilled driver will be put in a position where an accident is unavoidable. As you approach an intersection, a car runs a red light and you are forced to swerve. You have cars on one side and a pedestrian on the other. Someone is going to get hit. The safest course for you, in your car, is likely to hit the pedestrian. But the chances of that accident causing a fatality are higher than in swerving into cars or going forward and hitting the car running the red light. You will likely make your choice by reflex, without any real contemplation.

Autonomous vehicles don't have reflexes. They must be programmed to perform a certain way. If they are programmed to protect their occupants, the loser will usually be the pedestrian. That ethical dilemma is just one of the things that must be overcome before self-driving cars are made generally available to consumers.

Do Texting Bans Work As Advertised?

Twenty-four states currently ban texting while driving. An additional seven states ban the practice for young drivers. These texting bans come in two varieties: primary bans and secondary bans. Primary bans allow law enforcement officials to stop and cite drivers solely for texting behind the wheel. Secondary bans mean that police officers can cite drivers for texting only after stopping them for a different reason. Most of the bans have been enacted in the past decade. Early research has shown that the bans work, depending on the level of implementation.

Texting is not a safe activity for someone who is supposed to be driving. As texting has grown in popularity, particularly among younger drivers, safety experts have looked for ways to curb the behavior. Texting bans have become a popular solution.

Out-of-state case shows importance of knowing whistleblowing laws

Many people here in New Jersey know that there are employment laws that protect a person from wrongful termination. In the event that an employer fires a worker for exercising their employee rights, that employee does have the right to file a complaint against their employer. It's worth noting though that not all cases result in compensation, even if you feel like your rights were violated.

We can show this by using a case out of Idaho. Even though employment laws may differ between our two states, our laws regarding whistleblower protection are not dissimilar. But as this case will show, compensation may not be awarded if the laws do not apply to your particular situation.

New Jersey hour and wage laws

In every state across the nation, including here in New Jersey, employers must adhere to federal and state employment laws. This can include everything from employee rights, family medical leave, workplace safety and compensation for work-related injuries, just to name a few.

But of the state and federal laws that have come under the most scrutiny in the last few years have been hour and wage laws. From complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to civil lawsuits, a number of cases have highlighted an employee's right to overtime pay while others have pointed out an employer's duty to abide by minimum wage laws.

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