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July 2015 Archives

Safety, Etiquette And The Left Lane

The left lane is for passing. It's a relatively simple idea that can help traffic move more quickly and safely. Proper lane discipline is not just about etiquette, though there is a component of that. Drivers who clog up the left lane cause congestion and congestion causes accidents. New Jersey is one of many states that have passed legislation increasing the penalties for holding up other motorists by cruising in the left lane.

Wage and Hour and Overtime Rights Lawyer Discusses New Employment Rights

As long as the Fair Labors Standards Act (FLSA) has been in existence, American corporations, large and small, have looked for ways to avoid paying overtime to employees who are otherwise entitled to receive it. One of the most common tricks used by business is to "misclassify" and a worker who would otherwise be entitled to overtime as "exempt" from the overtime requirements of the law. "Exemption" is dependent upon the nature of the work performed by the employee and whether or not the employee is "salaried." The salary threshold is extraordinarily modest, only $450 per week, or $23,660.00 per year. At such a low threshold, it has been very easy for employers who don't want to do the right thing to pay an employee "salary" and then declare that employee exempt. This puts the employee in the position of having to prove that, even though they are salaried, the day to day work that they perform is not within one of the recognized exemptions to the law. It puts the employee in the position of having to file a lawsuit and carry the burden of proof on misclassification.

The Response To School Bullying

The experience of being bullied or of parenting a child who is being bullied is not easy. Every situation is unique, but there are things that should always be done when bullying occurs. Schools cannot ignore bullying. Neither can they afford to respond in an uneven, unpredictable or unreliable way. School boards and administrators are accountable for the action or inaction they take to prevent or address bullying behavior. Despite the necessity of an effective bullying and harassment policy, parents and victims of bullying receive a wide range of responses when they report unacceptable conduct.

Automaker Lobbyists 1, Safety 0

It was probably a foregone conclusion once the Senate came under Republican control in January. The push for auto safety reforms was never likely to succeed once the dollars started flying around Capitol Hill. The latest piece of legislation designed to protect auto consumers hit a major snag last week when a Senate committee struck down several measures designed to protect the people from automotive businesses. The push to allow criminal sanctions against auto executives who hide deadly auto defects was struck down. In addition, a measure that would have prevented used car dealers from selling cars with unrepaired recalls was also defeated. The news was largely bad for anyone without a major financial stake in protecting auto industry leaders.

EEOC Clarifies Stance On Anti-Gay Discrimination

Three years ago, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that discrimination based on gender identity was sex discrimination. That ruling meant that transgender discrimination was included among the behaviors expressly forbidden by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That ruling did not, however, tackle the question of whether anti-gay discrimination in the workplace should be considered sex discrimination. In a recent 3-2 vote, the EEOC has now made its position clear. If an employer discriminates against you based on your sexual orientation, that employer is violating the Civil Rights Act.

Trucking Legislation Pushes Hourly Pay For Truck Drivers

There is a growing belief that the way truck drivers are paid is leading to unsafe practices. The majority of truck drivers are paid by the mile, rather than by the hour. When a truck driver is stopped in traffic or is waiting for the truck to be loaded or unloaded, that driver is not getting paid. Obviously, getting paid by the mile is an inducement to drive too fast and to drive in weather that makes conditions unsafe. Truck drivers are exempted from the Fair Labor Standards Act which mandates the minimum wage. New legislation was proposed to the U.S. Senate last week that would require employers to pay truck drivers for the hours they work, rather than for the miles they drove.

Motorcycle Safety Campaign Has Blunt Message

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has a brutal new slogan for its motorcycle safety campaign: Read the Road. And You Won't Need as Many New Parts. Collisions between cars and motorcycles are particularly deadly. They are also frequently the result of errors made by the driver of the car, rather than mistakes by the rider. That said, the truth is that many deadly motorcycle accidents are single vehicle incidents. Riders who lose control of their motorcycles suffer broken bones, head trauma and worse. The campaign urges riders to be mindful of road conditions that contribute to these one-vehicle accidents.

Employment Challenges Face Transgender Community

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination is a civil rights statute that prohibits a wide range of discrimination, including employment discrimination based on gender identity or expression, gender role and transgender status. The law is an attempt to protect some of the most disadvantaged communities in the nation. Transgender people, despite recent progress, still face an uphill battle in securing their rights in employment and other areas of life.

New Jersey Civil Rights Trial Lawyer Discusses Supreme Court's Same Sex Marriage Decision in Obergefell v. Hodges

Mark Twain, lauding the effectiveness of a short communication over a long one, once joked "I didn't have the time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one instead." When blogging about the important civil justice issues we cover in this blog, I've tried to bear this in mind, as well as the more oft-quoted maxim that "brevity is the soul of wit," but there are times when it is necessary to say a bit more than just a few words.

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