Phillips & Associates
Phillips & Associates
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Sometimes, a hostile work environment case may involve dozens or hundreds of instances of sexual harassment. Other cases may involve an employer that blatantly turned a blind eye to the harassment and did nothing. (Still, others may involve both.) However, even if those things weren’t true in your case, you can sue and you potentially can still hold your employer liable, even if the harassment happened just once and your employer acted quickly in the harassment’s aftermath. To achieve that kind of legal success, start by getting in touch with a knowledgeable New Jersey hostile work environment lawyer.

The hostile work environment case of J.T., an office assistant at a drug counseling and treatment center in Monmouth County, makes for a good illustration. In March 2016, the clinic director organized a weekend outing to Atlantic City to celebrate the birthday of a coworker. During that trip, according to the assistant’s complaint, her supervisor supplied her with alcohol. J.T. eventually became sick and laid down, awakening later with her supervisor in bed with her.

According to the complaint, the supervisor raped J.T., as well as engaging in other oral and digital non-consensual acts with her. These acts occurred “throughout the night.” Allegedly, the supervisor boasted the next morning that he had “Cosby’d” the assistant, seemingly a clear indication that the supervisor had drugged J.T. to have sexual relations with her without her consent.

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Sex discrimination can occur in many different forms. Some of it is relatively “in-your-face” like inappropriate (and sexually discriminatory) comments connected to gender. Other forms, such as a failure to promote, failure to hire, or unequal pay, can be more subtle. Whatever form they take, they are illegal employment actions and you should waste no time in contacting an experienced New Jersey sex discrimination lawyer when it happens to you.

J.S. was someone who allegedly knew firsthand what it was like to be a woman in a “boys’ club” place of employment and suffer sex discrimination as a result. In her case, that place of employment was the police department of a borough in Union County. J.S. had worked for the department since the early 1990s, had risen to the rank of lieutenant and, by 2017, was the #1-ranked non-veteran on the list of candidates eligible for promotion to captain. She did not, however, receive a promotion in 2017.

The next year, she again was ranked #1 on the same list, but again was denied the promotion. Each time, the department chose instead to promote lower-ranking eligible candidates. Each time, the lower-ranking candidates who received promotions were men and, according to the lawsuit, were “cronies” of the borough’s police chief, nj.com reported.

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In any area of the law, there are obvious cases and there are not-so-obvious cases. While a textbook or a TV show might be a good place to find examples of the former, in the real world examples of the latter are more common. This is why it pays to have a knowledgeable New Jersey employment retaliation lawyer on your side. Just because your case isn’t an obvious one does not mean that it is not a valid or winnable one (far from it.) It just means that it requires the touch of a seasoned legal professional to generate a positive result.

Retaliation cases are one area where this is very true. To win your case, you need proof that you engaged in protected activity and that you suffered an adverse employment action as a proximate result of that activity. The difference between success and defeat, then, may come down to winning the arguments about whether or not what you did was protected conduct and what your employer did was an adverse employment action. These things are often much more “shades of gray” than black-and-white.

A recent federal Title VII retaliation case involving a postal service worker shows what we mean. Allegedly, in September 2014, D.G., who was the postmaster of a post office in Bergen County, experienced an incident where a letter carrier engaged in non-consensual touching, hugging her, kissing her, and grabbing her rear.

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Many times, appeals court rulings reaffirm well-established concepts of law. Sometimes, though, these rulings may stake out new territory or expressly clarify something for the first time, making them particularly noteworthy developments in the law. For you, as a worker who may have been harmed by workplace discrimination, it is vital to have a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer on your side who is fully versed on all of the law’s latest advances and updates so that those new developments in the law can be put to full use on your behalf.

A recent case from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the federal appeals court whose rulings directly impact federal cases in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, represented one of those significant developments. In that late July ruling, the court announced for the first time that race-based “associational discrimination” was a viable form of discrimination under which a worker could pursue a Title VII discrimination case.

The employee, J.K., a captain at the county jail in Pittsburgh, had allegedly endured a considerable amount of racially offensive conduct, including comments with racial slurs like “monkey” and text messages with “racially offensive” content.

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The current resurgence in COVID-19 cases is a reminder of many things, not the least of which is the importance of health, especially the health of our closest loved ones. Taking care of a seriously ill or dying family member should not be an act that costs you your job and, in New Jersey, we have the Family Leave Act to protect workers. If you have been fired or otherwise punished at work for taking leave to care for a seriously ailing loved one, your employer may have violated the law. If that happens to you, do not delay in reaching out to an experienced New Jersey family leave lawyer to learn more about your legal options.

As an illustration of what a violation might look like, there’s the FLA case of a driver working for a Hoboken-based bus line company. That driver was also the son of a man who had terminal leukemia. On two occasions, the driver, armed with a medical certificate issued by the father’s doctor, took intermittent leave to tend to his dying father.

In December 2017, he sought additional leave and, in response, the employer asked for a new medical certificate. The driver indicated that he could not do that “because the gravity of his father’s deteriorating condition was still being assessed.” According to the driver, he planned to provide the paperwork the employer sought once the father’s medical team created a new treatment plan.

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As cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus surge, more and more governmental entities and private employers are responding with mandates related to vaccines and masks. As these mandates have proliferated, workers whose religious beliefs and practices stand opposed to such things may feel left in a quandary. Do not give up hope. Although the circumstances are limited, there are settings in which you may be entitled to a religious exemption against certain coronavirus-related mandates. As with any kind of workplace discrimination, you should get in touch with an experienced New Jersey religious discrimination lawyer and discuss your legal options.

Vaccine mandates are making lots of news headlines. Nearby New York City has erected a mandate banning unvaccinated people from indoor restaurants, gyms, and entertainment facilities. Many employers in New Jersey – including several in the healthcare industry along with the state’s court system – are mandating vaccines for their employees.

So, what if you practice a religion whose rules prevent you from getting any of the coronavirus vaccines? Does the threat posed by COVID-19 trump your religious rights?

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You can think of your successful discrimination or sexual harassment case like one of those domino “chain reaction” exercises. To arrive at a successful domino effect conclusion, every element of the chain must be properly in place and must do its job. If any one of them fails, the whole thing fails. One of the many ways that the right New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer will help you is by ensuring that you have the proof you need in each of the required elements so that each of your “dominos” will be more than ready to do its job and get you to a successful case result.

The disability discrimination case of one retail worker from North Jersey makes for a very good example of this. F.K., a woman with a hearing impairment and a speech impediment, worked at a clothing store and “lifestyle retailer” in the Menlo Park Mall in Edison.

Eight months after F.K. started, a new manager came to the store. Things allegedly got off to a rocky start. The new manager verbally reprimanded for various minor infractions. There was one text message exchange about an alleged incident involving F.K. reading a book while “on the clock.” However, no one ever “wrote up” F.K. and all managers confirmed that F.K.’s work was “generally satisfactory.”

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It’s now been more than one year since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County, which declared that federal law – specifically, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This means that, if you’ve suffered that kind of harm in New Jersey, you could have two possible options: a federal Title VII claim and a New Jersey Law Against Discrimination claim. When it comes time to determine the best way to proceed with your sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination case, be sure to look to an experienced New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer for the advice you need.

On the occasion of the first anniversary of the high court’s ruling in the Bostock case (as well as the mid-point of Pride Month,) the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a guidance document that laid out elements of the EEOC’s positions on gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination.

At the outset, the document reminds employers and employees about who isn’t covered by Title VII. If you work for a private employer, or for a state or local government, and your employer employs fewer than 15 people, then Title VII does not apply, and your employer is not at risk of potential federal liability for gender identity or sexual orientation discrimination.

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In the world of trial practice, there is something that lawyers sometimes call a “swearing match” or “swearing contest.” It refers to a case that hinges heavily, if not almost entirely, on the jury’s credibility determination between two witnesses whose testimony was nearly diametrically opposite. This is a scenario where the right New Jersey discrimination lawyer can help immensely. The right legal team can come up with, and deploy, crucial techniques that poke holes in the credibility of your opponent, while also helping you make your own testimony even more relatable, believable, and persuasive.

The Appellate Division recently rendered a ruling in one of those cases. The race discrimination plaintiff, R.M., was a Black woman and a supervisor at a skilled nursing facility in Bound Brook. In the fall of 2016, the facility’s interim administrator allegedly told her that “I don’t want a black person walking around here in a suit as a VP. I want you in scrubs, flats, and a lab coat.”

Not long after this contentious alleged incident, the facility fired R.M., ostensibly for failing to alleviate the backlog of grievances, accident reports, and incident reports that existed at the facility. K.K., a white woman, took over handling R.M.’s duties at the facility.

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Back in the 19th Century, an English children’s rhyme declared that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, But words shall never hurt me.” Today, we have a more nuanced and complete recognition of the power of words to inflict real damage, especially slurs directed at historically disadvantaged people. That includes the use of those epithets in the workplace. Even if the word isn’t used a lot, it may still be enough to “alter the terms and conditions” of your job. When that happens, you may have the proof you need to win an employment discrimination case in New Jersey.

The courts have already addressed the “N-word” and its potentially discriminatory impact on Black workers. Back in 2017, the federal Third Circuit court, whose appellate rulings impact federal cases in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, said that even just one use of that word by a supervisor, while obviously not pervasive discrimination, was enough to qualify as severe discrimination in violation of federal law.

While that slur is widely recognized as perhaps the vilest epithet, the New Jersey courts have addressed cases involving other words and other groups and whether isolated use of other racial/ethnic slurs can be severe enough to qualify as actionable discrimination. Recently, this state’s highest court decided that answer was “yes.”

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