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New Jersey Employment Law Blog

Political discrimination is often unprotected

The presidential election has given rise to discrimination in some surprising areas, emboldening individuals across many racial, religious, socioeconomic and political divides, among others, to berate those they see as dangerously different. While it is hopeful that this kind of discrimination would stay out of the workplace, that is surely hoping for too much. Some businesses are taking the opportunity to voice their disapproval of the president-elect in a surprisingly ironic way — by coming out against Trump supporters, and in some cases saying that the company does not wish to serve them or possibly even employ them.

A New Mexico small business recently made headlines recently when its chief executive officer released a statement through the company's website, stating "If you are a Republican, voted for Donald Trump or support Donald Trump, in any manner, you are not welcome at 1st In SEO and we ask you to leave our firm. 1st In SEO will do everything in our power to ensure that we break ties with any person or business that supports Fascism." These are strong words that have complicated legal implications.

Federal judge rules against New Jersey employee's rights

A decision handed down by a federal judge has diminished employee rights in New Jersey, or rather clarified what is and is not a right. A case that has drawn on for nearly three years has come to a close in a resolution that is sure to leave many with mixed feelings. The dispute originated three years ago in December of 2013 when a school teacher displayed pictures of her relatives dressed up in blackface to her students. The display involved Dutch holiday customs, which the teacher's relatives were observing.

The teacher filed suit after being reprimanded for the display, claiming that her first amendment rights were violated by being called out for showing the pictures to her class. She contended that it should not have fallen under the school's bullying policy to show the picture, since it was in the context of a discussion of piece by satirical author David Sedaris, discussing the Dutch tradition of Zwarte Piet, a black man who is often depicted as following around Santa Claus. When an African American student expressed that the picture was offensive, the teacher claimed that she was simply displaying cultural differences around the world, and also stated that Holland had done away with slavery prior to the United States.

New Jersey police officer faces sexual assault charges

Sexual assault charges are some of the most personal and difficult claims to bring against another person. "I was assaulted, and that person is responsible," is difficult, no matter who you are, and that conflict can be even greater if the person who is responsible is an authority figure. Make no mistake, sexual assault should never be swept under the rug, no matter who the perpetrator happens to be. Illustrating this point is a New Jersey police officer who is currently facing sexual assault charges.

We would all like to believe that sexual assault would not be something that an officer of the law would commit, but no one is immune from this threat, nor is any position above perpetrating it.

School bullying incidents reported nationwide

Reports of bullying in schools, particularly race-based bullying and harassment of LGBTQ students, are widespread in the wake of the recent Presidential election. While there is merit to discussing why these incidents are occurring, it is important not to lose focus on how to protect the victims and put a stop to the behavior. 

A serious problem

School bullying and harassment take a terrible toll on victims. It is nearly impossible to succeed in a school where you don't feel safe. The victims of school bullying often suffer from depression, anxiety, substance abuse problems, academic problems and, in the most serious cases, self-injury. The severity of the problem should be enough to convince school administrators and boards to take action, but that is not always the case. 

Woman alleges racially motivated termination against union

Many of us would prefer to believe that discrimination in the workplace is a thing of the past, especially discrimination on such blatant grounds as race. Unfortunately, this dinosaur from a different era continues to find its way into our workplaces with frustrating frequency, no matter how out of place it may seem. Whenever there is an experience of racial discrimination, it should always be reported, but that is not always enough. Sometimes it is also necessary for the sake of justice and peace of mind to enlist the representation of a qualified attorney who is experienced in bringing down these workplace dinosaurs.

Recently, an African American woman in Trenton filed a suit against her former union employer, claiming that she faced racial discrimination on the job which ultimately led to a wrongful termination. The woman, who had served as an executive assistant a New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association chapter, alleges that racial attitudes within the union changed from the top down after leadership of the organization underwent a changing of the guard — a move that was seen as many to be fraudulently achieved with ballot tampering.

New Jersey workers eagerly awaiting predictive scheduling law

Employees rights advocates and workers across many sectors, mostly in service industry jobs, are closely following both federal and state legislation that would be a huge win for some of the country's most put-upon labor forces. If predictive scheduling measures are passed, employees will be required by law to treat employees with greater care in several industries with volatile work schedules.

Predictive scheduling fundamentally recognizes that the workers whose jobs are in industries such as food service are often subjected to incredibly difficult and unreliable scheduling, leaving their entire lives often at the whim of their employer. Too often, these workers are required to be available for working wildly erratic schedules that are both more draining than a standard nine-to-five job and also create immense barriers to maintaining a healthy life outside of work. Practically speaking, this is simply too much freedom for an employer to have over a worker's life.

The upside of pursuing an employment law case

The CEO of Wells Fargo recently promised to rehire any of the workers it fired under an aggressive, even abusive, sales structure. Whether some or all of those workers will want their jobs back is an interesting question. If you have been the victim of wrongful termination, harassment, discrimination or other employment law violations, the relief you seek really depends on your goals.

The value of your case

New Jersey Employment and Sexual Harassment Lawyer Discusses the Cost of Donald Trump's Talk About Women

Or "The Hidden Cost of Trump's Misogyny."

I've stayed out of the conversations about the Presidential race because I didn't believe for a second that anyone who still supports Trump would ever change their mind based on anything I might say. Nor do I believe differently about any Hillary supporter. There's certainly nothing anyone could say to me that would make me vote for him.

But I changed my mind this afternoon. I thought the below ought to be said.

You see, I just hung up the phone with a woman who, at nineteen, was date-raped, then gang-raped, a number of years ago (her attacker called his friends to join him after his initial rape). She's been in therapy since, and has, over the years, gotten back on her feet, mental-health wise. But "just." There was a prosecution, but no convictions, only plea-bargains. She soldiered on in her life. No kids, no marriage; she considered herself too "broken" to be in a healthy relationship, so she just tried to live her life as a decent, healthy person. 

Reasonable accommodations in the workplace

Disability discrimination is a serious matter and it goes well beyond the visual and verbal.

Protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act and enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it covers all types of discrimination. An employer can't hire or fire a worker based on a condition, but it's also illegal to harass an employee for a disability (past or present) and to deny reasonable accommodation.

The Dollar General case

Dollar General in Maryville, Tenn. found out the hard way, when the discount general merchandise store didn't allow a diabetic employee to drink juice at the cash register regardless of blood sugar level. When she later drank a beverage before paying for it (but paid for the transaction before confessing to her supervisor), she was fired. With legal help form the EEOC, she was awarded both compensation and back pay for missing wages.

Proposed wage law faces uncertain future on governor's desk

Wage laws are front and center once again for New Jersey, with another equal pay bill making its way to Governor Chris Christie's desk. It is yet to be seen if it will survive the veto that has killed similar bills that have previously made this journey. In the nearly six years since Christie took office in 2010, the Democratically-controlled legislature has produced three similar bills that have all met with a veto, although there is some momentum for this particular bill that may entail an override vote.

If passed, the bill will provide simpler and easier measures for employees to bring wage discrimination suits against their employers. Like other similar bills, the statute of limitations for bringing a pay discrimination suit would start anew at the issuing date of each paycheck that was discriminatory. Also, the bill steps up available measures even further than the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, on which it is primarily modeled, by allowing a plaintiff to seek damages from an employer or former employer without any time restrictions.