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New Jersey Employment Law Blog

What The Fourth Of July Really Means For America

The 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence were, admittedly, not terribly representative of today's America. All were male. All were white. All were (at least publically) straight. All were Christian. All were "rich" by the standards of the day. And 41 of them owned slaves.

They weren't perfect, either as individuals or as a group. But they had a perfect idea. Against this idea, they pledged "Our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." That comes directly from the Declaration of Independence. In response, a significant army was fielded by King George to defend his honor (at least as he perceived it) against this assault from "rebels" who were "treasonous." The British soldiers committed some significant atrocities, among them hanging people to the point of unconsciousness, then reviving them and then disemboweling them.

The signing of the Declaration wasn't, in other words, an act undertaken lightly. Clearly, the idea was important. 

Don't Talk And Drive?

Distracted driving brings to mind images of drivers engaging with their cell phones, rather than minding the road. It can be maddening to see a car floating into your lane because the driver is looking down, most likely at a cell phone, instead of watching the road. Cell phones are a relatively new cause of distracted driving. That could be why they draw so much of the attention, and ire, of people trying to prevent car accidents. According to a recent study of federal accident data, cell phones are actually responsible for only 12 percent of distracted driving crashes. A more common cause of these accidents is conversations with other passengers.

Unless you always drive alone, chances are you talk to the passengers in your vehicle. When you do, you are engaging in the activity that causes more distracted driving accidents than all other behaviors combined. Conversations with passengers are responsible for 57 percent of distracted driving crashes. The high percentage is less surprising when coupled with the fact that the behavior is incredibly common. Talking with passengers is the most common secondary activity (driving is the primary activity) engaged in by drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 

Kids And Fireworks Are A Dangerous Combination

Independence Day weekend is upon us. Whether you have travelling plans, intend to watch fireworks somewhere, or have no plans at all, it is a good idea to be aware of the dangers posed by this particular holiday. The Fourth of July sees an increase in accidental injuries and deaths when compared to other days. If you want to enjoy the Fourth without incident, you need to keep your eyes open for potential hazards.

One danger that is less common in New Jersey than in many places is the danger of fireworks injuries. It is illegal to buy or sell fireworks here. That does not mean we are free from injuries, just that they are less common. If you are travelling out of state, you should be aware of the potential that someone will be shooting off fireworks. Kids are particularly prone to these injuries. In fact, 12 year-olds are the most likely age group to be injured by fireworks. Fireworks pose a danger to adults. In the hands of children, they are an accident waiting to happen. 

New Jersey Employment And Civil Rights Trial Lawyer Supports Proposed Legislation, The "Justice For Service Members Act"

On June 9, 2016, a bi-partisan group of federal legislators proposed Senate Bill 3402 (House Bill 5426), called the "Justice for Service Members Act." The sponsors of the bill are Senators Blumenthal (Democrat, Connecticut), Durbin (Democrat, Illinois), Leahy (Democrat, Vermont), and Franken (Democrat, Minnesota). The sponsors of the House Bill are Congressmen Cicilline (Democrat, Rhode Island), Matthew Cartwright (Democrat, Pennsylvania), Tulsi Gabbard (Democrat, Hawaii), Joe Wilson (republican, South Carolina), Jackie Walorski (Republican, Indiana), and Walter Jones (Republican, North Carolina).

This bill is, hopefully, one of the first "dominoes" to fall in finally doing away with a vile (and very long-lived) effort. I speak of the program to deceive the American public into feeling as if they can obtain "justice" when they're forced by un-negotiated "contract" provisions into putting their case not before a jury of their peers in a court of law, but before a single arbitrator. An arbitrator chosen from associations where arbitrators are paid exclusively by corporate America, and where they damn well know how their "bread is buttered." 

New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Trial Lawyer Discusses Orlando LGBT Shooting

I know what some people thought, the moment they heard it was a Muslim that did it. "Maybe Trump is right," the thinking must have gone. "Maybe we should keep Muslims from entering the country." I also know that some - maybe even many - of the people having those thoughts weren't fans of Trump. Maybe they even felt dirty considering the possibility that the mouthy, intemperate, manipulative, foolish, hate-monger Trump has evolved himself into - in order to appeal to a frightened, ignorant following - might have a solid idea, keeping Muslims from entering the country.

Here's the thing, though, if you haven't heard; this one was born here. Alright, but then I could almost hear the immediate mental retort: "Ok," goes the next thought, "but what about keeping out his parents, who were from Afghanistan? If they don't come in, then he doesn't get born, and..." you get the idea. 

New Overtime Rule Finalized

Not all employees are entitled to overtime pay for working more than 40 hours per week. Employees can be exempt from overtime pay provisions for a variety of reasons. Employees categorized as executive, administrative or professional may be exempt, if their job duties and salary meet basic requirements. The Department of Labor recently announced a final rule that changes the minimum salary level at which an employee can become exempt. According to the DOL press release, the new rule will move more than 4 million workers from exempt to non-exempt, meaning they are now entitled to receive overtime pay when they exceed the 40-hour workweek.

The new rule raises the salary floor applied to salaried workers. Workers cannot be considered exempt if their salary places them below the 40th percentile in earnings among full-time, salaried workers in the lowest paid region of the country. At the moment, that places the salary floor at $47,476 per year. An employee who is considered management, and therefore exempt from overtime rules, must make at least this much annually to continue to be exempt from overtime pay provisions. Employers will have to choose between limiting the hours of these workers, paying them overtime, or raising their salaries above the new minimum to avoid running afoul of U.S. labor laws. 

A Common Form Of Workplace Discrimination

When you are the victim of discrimination, there will always be at least a few people who advise you to just accept your fate. The "don't rock the boat" advice might be a misguided attempt to protect you, but just as often it will come from people who secretly (or openly) believe that it is OK to discriminate. In general, it seems as though fewer people are being told openly that they should just accept illegal discrimination. Perhaps the last area where victims are often told to keep quiet is in cases of mental illness discrimination.

The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) makes it clear that discrimination based on mental illness is a form of disability discrimination. People who suffer from a mental health issue have the same right to participate in the workforce as anyone. Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for workers with mental health issues. Employers are not allowed to discriminate, in hiring, promotion or other benefits, against workers simply because they have a mental illness. 

New Jersey Civil Rights Attorney Discusses Medical Errors Are The Leading Preventable Cause Of Death In The United States

Johns Hopkins, one of the most respected medical research institutions in the Country, estimates in a recent study that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical mistakes. To put this number in perspective, on the Center for Disease Control's official list, that ranks medical errors just behind heart disease and cancer, which each took about 600,000 lives in 2014. It puts medical mistakes in front of respiratory diseases, which claimed about 150,000 deaths. To put it in further perspective, automobile accidents only claim about 30,000 lives each year in comparison with those other causes.

That's a fairly monstrous and tragic waste of life, no? 

Sexual Harassment In The Medical Field

No profession is free from harassment and discrimination. No amount of education or level of skill can protect workers from the threat of a hostile workplace. The problem is often at its worst in fields that are or once were considered the domain of men. Progress is slow and attitudes that should have died out decades ago persist. The field of medicine is one where sexual harassment is all too common, according to a new study from the University of Michigan.

The study analyzed survey results from doctors who received career development awards from the National Institutes of Health. The surveys demonstrated that 4 percent of men who had received these awards were the victims of sexual harassment. More than 30 percent of the women in that group had been sexually harassed. Of those women, roughly half reported that the harassment harmed their career advancement. 

Firing Females Because The Wife Of Employer Is Jealous?

The article below, speaking to a case thrown out by a NY Court in which a female employee was fired by business owner's wife because wife thought the plaintiff was "too attractive," is another nail in the coffin of "gender stereotype" discrimination. This firm remains committed the belief that discriminating against someone because they display "gender" characteristics of which an employer doesn't approve - a doctrine which is supported by both Federal and New Jersey law - should be illegal and should be an appropriate avenue of redress for a harmed worker.