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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.

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.

New Jersey nurse's employee rights upheld in court

Workers in New Jersey expect certain rights to be maintained and protected by employers and laws related to the workplace. For one New Jersey nurse, refusal to accept a flu shot resulted in both termination and the loss of unemployment benefits. A later court, however, ruled in favor of the nurse, stating her employee rights had been violated.

The case illustrates how employee rights extend beyond the workplace itself. After the nurse was fired, a Department of Labor board denied her unemployment benefits, stating that the nurse engaged in misconduct in the workplace by refusing to accept a flu shot. Since the nurse was terminated due to what the board called work-related misconduct, her benefits were denied.

New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Attorney Discusses 'Reverse Discrimination'

"OR...'A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME'...STILL STINKS."

It's mostly people who aren't members of "historically disenfranchised" minorities that ask me about the concept of "reverse discrimination." It's usually a male, usually Caucasian and usually Christian. The male may feel he was discriminated against by females because he's male, by gay people because he's straight, by racial minorities because he's Caucasian, etc. Maybe he was discriminated against. Maybe not. The point is that in the mind of the questioner, discrimination against him isn't simply "discrimination," it's somehow "reverse" discrimination, whatever that phrase means to him.

I'm here to tell you that the concept shouldn't even exist, but there is an asterisk. It sort of does exist. I'll explain in a second.

First of all, let's talk philosophy and policy.

Federal lawmakers consider pregnancy discrimination bill

Several states, including New Jersey, recently passed laws protecting pregnant women in the workplace. Now federal lawmakers are considering a bill that would afford more protections to women across the country.

Legislation under consideration states that pregnancy would be treated as a temporary disability. The law would require employers to make certain accommodations for employees with conditions that are related to childbirth and pregnancy. At the same time, employers would be barred from pregnancy discrimination.

A Constitutional Amendment to do Away with Citizens United Decision?

"Or . . . Corporations still aren't people."
A New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Attorney Discusses:

As a Constitutionally inclined and trained attorney, I'm never a big fan of Constitutional Amendments. The more you "tack on" ideas to a document as important as the Constitution, the more impliedly "patch-worky" it becomes. It's not good to have a Constitution that's "patch-worky." Constitutional Amendments ought to be fixes to holes in the original Constitution, or "add-ons" that were initially forgotten. We also might fix with an amendment items which weren't imagined at the time the document was written, but which issues now confront modern life.

It's not such a good idea to use the Constitution as a platform to embody philosophical beliefs, whether progressive or conservative.

I remember as a child the "debate" over the Equal Rights Amendment for women. I also remember the more recent push from the neo-conservative and tea party nuts to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. These are politically motivated movements based on philosophical beliefs. The Constitution is not the place for them.

Yet...

I've made no secret in previous blogs that I'm no fan of the Citizens United decision from the US Supreme Court. I believe that our Supreme Court is conservatively biased and unapologetic about that bias. I believe that the conservative wing of the Court smirked its way through the Citizens United decision with every sense that they knew that they were doing something which offended the ideas upon which the Constitutional democracy they serve was based. I think they did this wanting to give something to the right wing and to corporate America. I'll go to my grave believing that, no matter what they say and no matter what anyone else says. I've read too many of the decisions by the Justices responsible for Citizens United to not be convicted in my belief. The decision is a black mark on America. It's something over which the Country should always be embarrassed, regardless of direction in which the Country moves for the next 100 or even 1000 years, whether Citizens United is eventually "fixed" or not. Even as a historical footnote in a hopefully future time when it's nothing but a bad memory, it'll be a black mark.

But should we use a Constitutional Amendment to fix it?

Ex-adviser to Gov. Christie claims wrongful termination

Being dismissed from a job for any reason can certainly impact your financial stability. In some cases, termination negatively impacts a person's reputation, impeding one's ability to seek future employment.

Bill Stepien's attorney claims the former adviser was wrongfully terminated from his job with the governor's office following an investigation of New Jersey's much publicized Bridgegate scandal. As you may know, Stepien, who was the campaign manager for both of Chris Christie's successful gubernatorial bids, also worked as the governor's chief of staff.

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