Phillips & Associates
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This spring there are multiple events that may hold substantial significance to trans people. As nj.com reported, March 31 marked the International Transgender Day of Visibility, which represented a day to highlight the contributions of trans people, while also putting a spotlight on the challenges they still face. Also, this June will mark the one-year anniversary of the important U.S. Supreme Court case that declared gender identity discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace to be violations of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act.

So, what does gender identity discrimination in the workplace look like? It actually can take many forms. The most obvious, of course, occurs when an employer refuses to hire you because you are trans, or when an employer fires you, demotes you, reduces your hours, or otherwise punishes you on the job once your employer becomes aware you are trans or are transitioning.

It also can take the form of an employer who refuses to accommodate your gender identity. This can include refusing to allow you to use the restroom facility that conforms to your gender identity, not updating your employment forms to indicate your gender identity, or a supervisor’s insistence on “deadnaming” you. (This is the act of addressing a trans person by the name that person had before transitioning.)

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Once you’ve decided that you need to undertake a sexual harassment lawsuit in New Jersey, there will be many more vital decisions you’ll have to make. Each choice may substantially impact how much compensation you receive or may affect whether or not your case gets to trial. Given the profound importance of these decisions, make sure you have the advice you need from an experienced New Jersey employment lawyer before you make those critical selections.

One of those choices is whether to litigate in state court or federal court. As a sexual harassment plaintiff, you might decide that you’d get a fairer hearing in state court and therefore pursue your case there. Whatever the reason, if you and your legal team have selected state court, there are likely very good reasons for it, so you may need to fight aggressively to keep your case in state court.

Here’s an example of what we mean. J.L., a woman who worked at a fast-food restaurant in Old Bridge, had a male co-worker who allegedly subjected her to multiple forms of harassment, including grabbing her buttocks, putting his hands on her shoulders to pin her down in a chair, and attempting to grab her genital area as he walked past.

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The law in New Jersey is frequently changing. One way changes occur is through case decisions by the Appellate Division court or the New Jersey Supreme Court. Another occurs when the state legislature decides that the law, as currently written, doesn’t reflect what the law should be, and enacts an amendment. These changes, whether via court ruling or legislative action, represent a key reason for having an experienced New Jersey employment lawyer on your side for your discrimination or harassment case. The right attorney can provide you with the benefit of both powerful legal experience and the most up-to-date knowledge of the law.

Back in 2019, one of those very important changes to statutory employment law occurred in New York. In October of that year, a critical amendment to that state’s Human Rights Law went into effect.

New York law, as modified by the 2019 bill, specifically says that “harassment need not be severe or pervasive in order for the employer to be liable.” This is a very substantial change that will make winning harassment cases much easier for harmed workers in New York in the future.

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“Reasonable.” The word can mean many different things. Google’s dictionary says that it means “fair and sensible,” “appropriate,” or something reflecting “sound judgment.” Here in New Jersey, the law requires employers to provide their pregnant workers with reasonable workplace accommodations. While the above descriptions reflect that “reasonable” is a subjective term, the law in this state sets some goalposts outside which employers may not stray when it comes to accommodating pregnant workers. If you’ve been discriminated against because of your pregnancy, that action may represent a violation of the law and may entitle you to recover compensation in court or through a settlement, so you should contact a New Jersey pregnancy discrimination lawyer right away to find out more about your options.

In the recent case of a North Jersey warehouse worker who was pregnant, the accommodation she received was essentially no accommodation at all. The woman worked in the warehouse as a “picker/packer.” In early April 2015, the woman gave her supervisor a note from her doctor that said that, as a result of the woman’s high-risk pregnancy, she needed frequent bathroom breaks and she needed to avoid lifting objects weighing more than 20 pounds.

The woman asserted that she never had to lift heavy items weighing more than 20 pounds in her regular job, but she gave the employer the note as a precautionary measure so that her employer knew she had that limitation and did not move her into a position that required heavy lifting. In fact, according to the worker, she continued in her regular job for a week after submitting the doctor’s note, and at no time during that week’s work did she ever have to lift anything weighing more than 20 pounds.

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidelines state that sexual harassment can take many forms. It can be an unwanted sexual advance. It can be a request for sexual favors or punishment for failing to provide those favors. Sexual harassment can be subtle. These subtle forms can be just as harmful as egregious forms to an employee who fears losing her job if she doesn’t “play along.” If you’ve found yourself in that position, don’t suffer in silence. Instead, reach out without delay to contact an experienced New Jersey sexual harassment attorney to learn more about the legal options available to you.

Many people probably call to mind a certain image when they think of sexual harassment. The famous movie Disclosure turns 27 this year. In that film, Michael Douglas’s character is punished at work for rejecting the overt sexual advances of his supervisor (played by Demi Moore.)

As a worker in New Jersey, it is important to recognize that you do not necessarily need to prove something as severe as what happened to that fictional character to have a viable case of sexual harassment in this state. The sexual harassment case of B.B., which was settled recently according to a nj.com report, is a good example.

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In any kind of civil lawsuit, it is important to recognize what you need at each phase of the process. What do I need in my complaint? What do I need in my opposition to a motion to dismiss? What proof do I need at trial? At each of these critical junctures (and throughout the process) of your discrimination case, it pays to have an experienced New Jersey employment attorney on your side who is well-versed in all the requirements of the law and can guide you along the way.

Recently, a federal ruling from the appeals court whose decisions control cases filed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware provided an important clarification when it comes to federal age discrimination cases and what you, as the discriminated employee, have to allege in your complaint.

Z.M., the employee in the case, was a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who agreed to a position with a Pennsylvania hospital in December 2016. Less than one year later, the hospital’s new owners “abruptly terminated” the surgeon, telling him that “the hospital ‘was moving in a different direction and [Z.M.’s] services were no longer needed.’” In place of Z.M., the hospital hired a pair of surgeons, each of whom was younger than Z.M.

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If you’ve been in the workforce long enough, you’ve probably found yourself in a position where you felt like your employer expected you to make actual miracles happen… perhaps even weekly or daily. Feeling that pressure is one thing, but when your employer gives you patently unrealistic performance targets, that’s another thing entirely. That’s especially true if your employer uses your failure to meet these impossible goals as the basis to fire you because of your age, race, gender, etc. When those things happen, your employer may have engaged in impermissible discrimination and an experienced New Jersey employment discrimination attorney may be able to help you in obtaining substantial compensation.

The law actually gives employers wide latitude in setting performance goals for employees, but that wide latitude is not completely a blank check.

The recent age discrimination case of a medical sales professional working for a major international pharmaceutical company is a good example. By 2010, R.R. was a sales director for the company. By 2016, R.R. and his team had begun to fail to meet sales quotas, and R.R.’s supervisor placed him on a “performance improvement plan.”

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A March 9 opinion handed down by the New Jersey Supreme Court not only benefitted a local police officer, but it was also a huge “plus” for any New Jersey worker who has been harmed at work because she was pregnant. Specifically, the decision firmly established pregnant workers’ right to pursue a Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) claim based on “unequal” or “unfavorable” treatment. Now more than ever before, any New Jersey worker who is pregnant and suffers adverse treatment because of that pregnancy should feel empowered and should not hesitate to contact an experienced New Jersey employment attorney about taking legal action.

The high court’s ruling was such a resounding victory for the discriminated employee that Anjali Mehrotra, president of the National Organization for Women of New Jersey, hailed it as “an affirmation of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act” itself, according to the Asbury Park Press.

The case involved a pregnant patrol officer with a township police department who, in late 2014, informed her supervisors that she was pregnant with her second child and that her doctor had advised that she cease patrol work. The employer granted the light-duty accommodation request but, consistent with the department’s “Maternity Standard Operating Procedure,” required the officer to use up all her accumulated paid leave time before starting her light-duty assignment.

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Here in New Jersey, there are thousands of people who are employed by religious employers such as church-run schools. Those employers enjoy the benefit of the religious freedom protections established under New Jersey and federal law. That protection does not, however, give religious schools a license to engage in sex discrimination. If you’re a female teacher who‘s been disciplined or fired from your job at a religious school, and you believe your employer violated the laws against sex discrimination, you should talk to an experienced New Jersey employment attorney, who can help you assess how best to proceed.

Recently, a story made the news that involved not a teacher at a religious school but rather a parent. Back in February, a Sacramento area mom’s children were expelled from a local Catholic school, according to the New York Post. The children had done nothing wrong. They were expelled from the school after the mother’s OnlyFans account came to the attention of school authorities.

OnlyFans is an online content-sharing platform that allows content creators to earn money from the users who subscribe to their content. This mom used her OnlyFans account to post photos and videos in which she appeared nude or dressed in lingerie or revealing outfits. That content was what got her kids expelled from school.

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In recent months, we’ve heard many socially conscious and/or politically active people call for a more robust effort to “police the police” or to “investigate the investigators.” One may view these as important reminders that no one should be above the law. An ongoing equal pay and race discrimination lawsuit against the State of New Jersey is another illustration of that. One thing you can take away from this race discrimination action is that, if you’ve been harmed because your employer engaged in illegal discrimination, don’t be afraid to take action, regardless of who your employer is. Reach out to a determined New Jersey employment attorney and get started pursuing what you deserve.

What makes the current case here in New Jersey somewhat unique is that the employer being sued is the same organization responsible for investigating and taking on many instances of discrimination: the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).

The employees who alleged discrimination were three deputy attorneys general. At the time, these  employees filed their legal action, the OAG had more than 700 deputy attorneys general. Of those, 44 were African American, and only a few of those held senior management jobs, according to the lawsuit.

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