Phillips & Associates
Phillips & Associates
Phillips & Associates
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In April 2022, the percentage of workers who worked remotely was at its lowest in two years but, even with these declines, fully 1 in 13 workers (7.7%) remains a remote employee. With remote work comes the question of what to do if you, as a remote worker, experience discrimination or sexual harassment. Who should you sue? Where should you sue? For answers to these and other vital questions, look to an experienced New Jersey workplace discrimination lawyer for the answers you need.

A recent disability discrimination case addressing this issue involved a New Jersey woman who took a job with a New York City investment bank in 2020. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she began her job working remotely from her home. Shocked by the extremely long hours she was working, the employee notified Human Resources that she had an anxiety and mood disorder that required regular sleep. Human Resources and a senior partner worked out an accommodation, and the employee was made exempt from working more than 15 hours on any one day.

Just a few weeks later, the employer fired the woman, allegedly asserting that, among the job’s essential requirements, was “working many 120-hour weeks,” and that her disability rendered her incapable of satisfying the essential duties of the job.

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When you get hurt on the job and become disabled (either temporarily or permanently) as a result, your employer may fear the consequences… on their bottom line. Many of those same (improper) considerations can take place when you step up and act as a whistleblower. If your employer has taken adverse action against you (such as firing you, demoting you, cutting your hours, etc.) because of the disabling injury you suffered or because you engaged in whistleblowing, then your employer very possibly has violated the law. Don’t assume there’s nothing you can do. Instead, fight back by consulting with an experienced New Jersey workplace retaliation lawyer and finding out more about the legal options that exist for you.

Sometimes, an employer can make a good-faith mistake regarding a less-than-clear issue of how far their legal obligations under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination do (or don’t) extend. (That doesn’t mean that they aren’t culpable for the harm they caused you, as an unintentional violation is still a violation all the same. A more egregious violation may, however, open an employer up to greater liability.)

A lot of times, though, the alleged missteps an employer makes are more obvious. I.F.’s retaliation case against a New Jersey county government fell more into the latter category than the former.

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Sometimes, a case where a discrimination plaintiff loses can be just as instructive (or even more so) than an outcome where a discriminated worker was successful in court. Much like how the old TLC show “What Not to Wear” educated views about fashion by highlighting others’ faux pas, an unsuccessful case can be a “cautionary tale” of a sort, illustrating what not to do. One of the best ways you can ensure your discrimination case doesn’t get wiped out by a legal faux pas is by ensuring you’ve retained a skilled New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer to represent you.

L.B.’s gender discrimination case was one of those lawsuits that roundly failed. She worked at a bar in Morristown where the atmosphere was irreverent, and workers frequently joked with one another. Supervisory individuals engaged in this, as well.

One of the bar’s owners allegedly called L.B.by “names used to describe a person with an oversized posterior.” (The court did not specify those names.) Those nicknames appeared in place of L.B.’s given name on the weekly work schedule and, sometimes, on the woman’s pay envelopes. The nicknames may have been facetious or intentionally inaccurate, as L.B. weighed only 110 pounds and stood 5’2″.

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Twenty-nine years ago last month, Saturday Night Live debuted a skit where a white New Yorker (played by John Goodman) engages in numerous acts of vandalism because of his mistaken beliefs about the Middle Eastern ancestry of a store’s owner. The skit is a reminder that harming someone solely because of their national origin or ancestry is never right. If the person or entity doing that to you is your employer, it could be illegal and you can potentially recover substantial damages in a discrimination lawsuit. If you have encountered that kind of mistreatment, don’t delay in contacting an experienced New Jersey national origin discrimination lawyer to discuss your situation.

The SNL skit takes on renewed relevance this spring as incidents of discrimination against people of Russian origin or ancestry have increased dramatically following the start of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Japan Times reported about anti-Russian discrimination in that country, including an inn that refused to house guests from Russia or Belarus. Russians have also been banned from participating in major events like the Wimbledon tennis tournament and the Eurovision international song contest.

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One byproduct of the opioid epidemic is the number of people who are in treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) and who are also employed or seeking employment in this state. For that group of people, the laws that prohibit disability discrimination offer certain substantial protections, which means that, if you’ve been denied employment or suffered workplace punishment because of your treatment, you may be able, with the help of a knowledgeable New Jersey disability discrimination lawyer, to win a lawsuit under federal and/or state anti-discrimination laws.

The U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division reaffirmed and highlighted this aspect of disability discrimination law recently. The division’s new guidance document, entitled “The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Opioid Crisis: Combating Discrimination Against People in Treatment or Recovery,” highlight various ways that employers may run afoul of laws barring disability discrimination, and what those employees can do about it.

The guidance document reaffirmed that OUD is considered to be people with a disability under federal law. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), therefore, bars discrimination against most people with OUD who are not currently using. That includes people taking drugs (like methadone) that a doctor prescribed for them as part of their OUD treatment.

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When one endures a hostile work environment, it may occur for many different reasons. It may be due to your race/color, your gender, your religion, your disability, your ethnicity/nationality, your gender identity, your sexual orientation, or some other basis. Other times, you may be a member of more than one of those protected groups and the harassment you receive may be based upon the combination (or “intersection”) of those groups. Either way, it’s illegal and an experienced New Jersey hostile work environment lawyer can help you in pursuing your legal options.

As an example of this, there’s B.R., who worked as a detective for the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office in South Jersey. B.R. was a woman and also homosexual. As a lesbian, she allegedly endured a hostile work environment that included an array of humiliating actions and comments perpetrated by the county prosecutor and others in the office.

After B.R.’s sexual orientation became known at work, the harassment began. First, there were the slurs, with a fellow detective allegedly calling her the misogynistic “C-word” epithet. Then there was the homophobic rhetoric, with the same detective allegedly commenting that he’d prefer that his child “die from an overdose than be gay,” as well as comparing B.R. to a pedophile by suggesting that, if same-sex marriage was legal, child marriage should be a legal option for pedophiles.

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When you need to pursue a discrimination lawsuit in New Jersey, your case needs several things, not the least of which is something called an “adverse employment action.” This is just one of many essential components your case needs to succeed. To make sure you have everything necessary for a positive outcome, be sure that, before you start, you’ve retained a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer.

Any of a range of actions can be adverse employment actions. It is fairly cut-and-dried that things like terminations, demotions, suspensions without pay, disciplinary “write-ups” or actions, reductions of pay or hours, or negative performance reviews are adverse.

As the recent age and disability discrimination case of one New Jersey woman shows, the array of actions that can qualify as adverse under employment law is not limited only to those listed above.

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For some, the hostile work environment you experience at your job is a seemingly daily grind. The harassment keeps happening over and over… and over. For others, their harassment is something different. It happened only one time but that one time was something incredibly egregious like an uninvited sexual grabbing, squeezing, slapping, groping… or worse. Be aware that, even if that is the only instance of harassment you endured, you can still sue and win. Even a single incident can be enough if it was sufficiently severe. To find out if you have a case, talk to an experienced New York City sexual harassment lawyer.

D.B. was one of those people in the “not pervasive but severe” category of hostile work environments.

She was a senior director of global market access and had worked for her employer (plus its predecessor) for 16 years. Then, in September 2017, while attending a work conference in Canada, she encountered her company’s president and CEO of global specialty medicines at a cocktail reception. Seeking to introduce her subordinate to the CEO, the director approached the man. They spoke for a few minutes then, as D.B. turned to walk away, the CEO slapped her on the rear.

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Advocates of a Congressional bill seeking to ban discrimination against natural and protective hairstyles suffered a setback recently when the measure failed to secure the votes it needed in the House of Representatives. Fortunately for workers in New Jersey, this kind of race discrimination is already expressly forbidden as a violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination so, if it happens to you here, you can secure a New Jersey race discrimination lawyer and take action under the LAD.

Measures to make discrimination against natural hairstyles a violation of federal anti-discrimination laws have emerged in each of the last two Congressional sessions. Two years ago, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker proposed the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or CROWN, Act of 2020.

The bill has not passed the senate and, recently, a similar measure suffered a defeat in the House of Representatives, as well. The house measure, H.R. 2116, was sponsored by New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman. Proponents sought to pass the bill on a “motion to suspend the rules,” so it needed a 2/3 vote. Because representatives voted in support by a margin of only 235-188, it failed.

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Modern technology – including smartphones – has fostered many wonderful advancements, including work-related ones. It also, however, has come with drawbacks. One is that many workers feel like they’re “on the clock” or “on-call” 24/7. Another is even more harmful – and that drawback regards sexual harassment. These days, a supervisor or coworker who seeks to harass likely can do it anywhere, anytime via your phone. Inappropriate comments, jokes, or images sent from a supervisor or coworker via texts, social media direct messages (“DMs”), or emails, can potentially make for a successful sexual harassment case, even if that activity happened in the hours outside work. If that’s happened to you, a knowledgeable New Jersey sexual harassment lawyer can provide you with customized advice based on your specific situation.

S.J. was allegedly one of those workers. She worked as a legal assistant for a very large law firm with offices in New York and New Jersey. One of the male attorneys at her office (in Morristown) allegedly sent her a lengthy array of inappropriate text messages. The texts, which allegedly numbered more than 100, included both verbal content (one message discussed kissing the woman’s intimate areas and another suggested that the pair engage in intercourse in the office of the woman’s boss) and visual content (a picture of the man’s private parts in a state of arousal.)

The woman eventually pursued a federal Title VII case for sexual harassment in the federal court for New Jersey. Very recently, the woman won an important battle to include a censored depiction of the man’s nude photo as an exhibit in her sexual harassment case, despite strong opposition from the employer, the ABA Journal reported.

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