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When New Jersey first enacted its paid family leave program in 2009, it was the second state in the country to do so, following only California. As the program approached a decade in existence, problems remained. Some lawmakers believed that too many families were still unable to take needed family leave because they could not afford it, meaning that the program was failing to address the problem it was designed to alleviate.

To address that issue, New Jersey’s lawmakers have again taken action. nj.com reported that, back in mid-February, Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law an important new bill regarding paid family leave in New Jersey. The new legislation now makes the state’s paid leave law one of the most generous in the country. The new law will be a very helpful one for many workers, allowing them to avoid a terrible situation in which they must choose between keeping their jobs and making ends meet or spending time caring for a new baby or ailing loved one. As always, if you are unsure about your rights or entitlement to benefits under New Jersey law, or believe that your employer has violated the law, reach out right away to retain the services of a knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorney.

The expansion created by the new law helps in two vital ways, as it extends the amount of time during which workers can be on paid leave and also increases the portion of their regular income that they receive. Under the new law, eligible caregivers or new parents may receive as much as 12 weeks of family leave benefits, an increase from six weeks under the old law. The old law said that an employee on family leave would receive 2/3 of his/her regular income; under the new law, it’s 80%. The original program capped the maximum weekly benefit at $650; under the expanded program, that figure will rise to $860, according to the nj.com report.

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Modern technology can be both a great help and a hindrance sometimes. One way in which it is potentially beneficial is by providing a means for recording things in a moment’s notice, which may be extremely helpful if a situation evolves into a lawsuit. In an auto accident, you may use your device to record the accident scene, which may help your personal injury attorney later. In an employment dispute, your smartphone may help you record conversations that will later be key proof that you were fired, not for some legitimate reason, but due to illegal discrimination. Whatever amount and type of evidence you may have recorded, a skilled New Jersey employment attorney can help you take the proof and use it to your maximum benefit.

An example of modern technology in action was the case of T.S., an activity aide at a nursing home in South Jersey. According to the Attorney General’s Division on Civil Rights, T.S.’s employment transpired like this: She started her activity aide job in July 2017. On her second day at work, the aide told her employer that she was pregnant. Her supervisor allegedly told her that day that “it would be a ‘liability’” for her to stay and that she should go home, nj.com reported.

According to T.S., she then contacted the employee who gave her hours for the first two days. That employee allegedly told her not to return to work and that she’d been terminated as a result of her pregnancy.

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One common form of socio-political discussion is to make reference to the current year as a precursor to asserting that we, as a society, should be past certain un-evolved behaviors. Regrettably, the news keeps reminding us that this, too often, isn’t true. One area where the news provided yet another stark reminder of that was the case of the highly offensive and discriminatory anti-LGBT conduct allegedly taking place at one New Jersey police department, as reported by nj.com and other sources.

There are many types of discrimination one can encounter at work. Unfortunately, being a member of certain groups and working in certain professions further increases that risk. Even though, here in 2019, we might like to believe that we’ve moved past that, the opposite is true too many times in too many places. If you’ve suffered as a result of this kind of discrimination or harassment at your job, be sure to fight back with strong representation from a skilled New Jersey discrimination attorney.

This blog has discussed previously the disappointing prevalence of anti-LGBT discrimination at New Jersey law enforcement agencies. A settlement reached recently by seven officers at one central New Jersey police department, and reported by nj.com, was just one of the latest examples.

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A civil litigation action can possibly take years to resolve. However, despite that potentially very elongated time period, the difference between success and defeat can be as narrow as just a few days–maybe even one day. Your Law Against Discrimination case needs knowledgeable New Jersey employment counsel who can provide you with the diligence and skill to help you navigate the legal system and avoid all the pitfalls that would otherwise be “show stoppers” in your pursuit of the compensation you deserve.

As an example of just how big a difference a few days can make, look at the case of J.M. J.M. was a sales manager for a major telecommunications company. In the fall of 2016, though, he sued the employer for its alleged violations of the Law Against Discrimination. As is true for quite a few employees, J.M. had signed an arbitration agreement as part of his employment with the telecommunications employer. The employer asked the trial judge to enter an order sending the case to arbitration. The trial judge sided with the employer and ordered arbitration.

When something like that happens, and you have decided that, in order best to advance your interests in your case, you definitely should avoid arbitration, then it is of the utmost importance to be sure you take action with appropriate speed. New Jersey’s court rules only give you a very limited number of days to ask the trial court to reconsider a ruling like an order compelling arbitration.

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If you’ve been a victim of sexual harassment or discrimination at work, you may be entitled to sue and receive compensation for the damages that you suffered. That you may have already known. You also have the right to settle your action out of court, in which you receive a payment from the other side in exchange for your dismissing your case. This, too, you may have already known. What you may not have known, however, is that New Jersey in on the cusp of changing the way that settlements in these situations are drawn up. Specifically, the state is close to enacting a law that would make any provisions in such agreements that require the harassed or discriminated employee to remain silent to be unenforceable.

As nj.com has reported in early February, the bill that would erect such a rule has passed both houses and needs only Governor Murphy’s signature. Back in 2017, the legislative body proposed similar legislation banning so-called “gag” or non-disclosure provisions in cases involving sexual harassment and discrimination. That bill did not become law.

The state senate tried again in 2018, proposing Senate Bill 121. Senate Bill 121’s enactment into law would mean that New Jersey workers would have one of the broadest umbrellas of protection against these sorts of non-disclosure agreements, protecting all workers asserting any kind of claim of discrimination, harassment or retaliation under the Law Against Discrimination.

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When you’ve been harmed by workplace discrimination, it is important to act promptly. You only have a limited period of time to decide to pursue a Law Against Discrimination case and to get that complaint filed with the court. The law limits you to two years in which to file. File too late and your employer may be able to use that tardiness to get your case dismissed, which would mean that you would be forever barred from obtaining any recovery for those acts of discrimination.

Part of that prompt action is, with all due speed, consulting with, and retaining, experienced New Jersey discrimination counsel. As a layperson, you are doubtlessly very familiar with all of the rules and requirements of your profession, but it is reasonable to assume that you may not be as versed in the demands of the law. Going it alone can risk making procedural errors like filing too late, or not knowing how best to respond if your employer argues, incorrectly, that your filing came after the deadline.

As an example of a case that came down arguments about when the filing deadline passed, there’s the recently decided lawsuit filed a South Jersey woman. S. T.-B. was the executive director of a community college’s cultural and heritage commission. S. T.-B. was also a 67-year-old African-American woman with disabilities. On January 23, 2015, a vice president at the college notified the director that due to drop in enrollment and in funding, the school was making cost cutbacks, including eliminating the director’s job. The director would, however, continue to receive her regular salary until June 30, 2015.

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Many of us have been there. You’ve just accepted a new job and now you’re going through the “new hire” procedures. You are probably asked to fill out, review and sign many documents. You may also be required to complete certain computerized or online tasks as you get started. Most people probably think of these things as perfunctory and don’t pay exceptionally close attention to the details. But the details can matter a great deal, especially should you eventually find yourself having suffered discrimination or harassment on the job. If you are in that position of needing to pursue a discrimination or harassment case, be sure you have skilled New Jersey employment counsel on your side.

One specific area where these kinds of details matter relates to the arbitration agreement you may have signed with your new job. Take, as an example, the case of a West Trenton-based flight attendant, A.S. When the flight attendant began her employment with a major New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company, she was required to complete something called a “training module.” That activity went over various employer policies, including the company’s mandatory arbitration agreement, which was laid out across a series of slides on a computer screen. One screen referred the employee to an internet link that provided the full text of the policy. A separate email provided a series of Frequently Asked Questions and answers to them (FAQs.)

One of the slides contained an interactive button that asked employees to “acknowledge” the policy. Even if the employee did not acknowledge the agreement, she would be “deemed” to have consented to it if she continued working for the employer for 60 or more days, another slide explained.

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You might think that a lawsuit related to the trade-in of a used car would have nothing to do with New Jersey discrimination law, but one recent case of that type offers some potentially useful information. There may be many different tools in the tool belt of a litigation attorney, and not all of them may come directly from court opinions in discrimination cases. The key is finding an experienced New Jersey discrimination attorney who knows how to use all of those legal tools for maximum effect for you.

The plaintiff in the vehicle case was a man who had traded in his used vehicle and leased a new one. As part of the transaction, a $75 fee was added that allegedly was never disclosed. This led the man to sue for numerous consumer protection violations. The defendant in that case asked the court to compel arbitration. As part of the pile of paperwork that the consumer had signed during the trade-in process, he had executed an arbitration agreement. The consumer contended that the arbitration agreement was invalid.

The Appellate Division court sided with the consumer. The court explained that any arbitration agreement, like any contract, must be made up of terms that are clear and unambiguous. If an arbitration agreement contains ambiguity or is vague, then that may allow the party seeking to avoid arbitration to do so.

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In a perfect world, discrimination in the workplace would be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, employment discrimination remains a reality for lots of people in New Jersey. What’s worse is the extensiveness to which certain groups face this kind of discrimination or harassment simply due to their chosen profession, such as women in STEM careers, where roughly half have experienced discrimination, according to a 2018 report from NBC News. Regrettably, women in STEM are not the only ones who face these sorts of improper hurdles every day on the job. Regardless of your profession, if you’ve been harmed by improper bias at work, contact a knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorney to discuss your legal options.

In addition to the example of women in STEM careers, another group in New Jersey that appears to be facing substantial problems in terms of employment bias are gay law enforcement officers. Recently, a North Jersey officer found it necessary to litigate based upon the anti-gay bias he was encountering at his job. The officer, J.T., alleged that he was “subject to discrimination and homophobic comments as a police officer in the borough,” according to a NorthJersey.com report.

Unfortunately, J.T. was not alone. In another nearby Bergen County borough, R.D. was allegedly fired in a case of anti-gay bias and retaliation. According to the officer, he objected to a borough councilman’s use of anti-gay slurs in relation to a school board member and, shortly after he complained, the borough trumped up charges against him and fired him, NorthJersey.com reported.

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There’s a lot that goes into producing a successful result in a New Jersey discrimination litigation matter. Certainly, there is the questioning of witnesses and the presentation of persuasive legal arguments at trial, but the work that goes on before your trial is just as important. One of the most important of those pre-trial steps is discovery, which involves obtaining documents and various information from the other side. Sometimes, effective pre-trial actions lay the groundwork for a favorable verdict, while other times, they can produce the possibility of reaching a beneficial settlement and avoiding trial altogether.

Obtaining the information you need in the discovery process involves more than just knowing how to make the right requests; it also involves knowing what to do when the other side rejects your valid request. As you take on this and other parts of your case, make certain you have a skilled New Jersey employment attorney handling your case from the very start.

A case from North Jersey, on which nj.com reported, was an example of the importance of pre-trial efforts. J.T. was a police officer. According to a Law Against Discrimination lawsuit he filed, the officer, who was gay, alleged that he had been the victim of sexual orientation discrimination at work. As a public employee, the officer had multiple options for seeking information that he thought might help his case. In addition to other steps, the officer could seek to lay hands on information using statutory means, such as making an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for disclosure, which is one thing that J.T. did.

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