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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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Many ingredients go into a successful discrimination, harassment, or retaliation case. One of these is having a capable New Jersey employment lawyer who can keep your case on track and moving toward a successful resolution at a timely pace, even when the case, or perhaps even “real life” from outside the case, throws a curveball.

This is so important because allowing such “curveballs” to cause you to miss deadlines or violate rules of procedure can trigger some severe penalties, up to and including dismissal of your case.

S.P. was an example of an employee whose harassment and retaliation case almost got tossed because of problems with pre-trial discovery. S.P., who was a deputy registrar working for a city in North Jersey and also the vice president of the city employees’ “collective negotiations” unit, was fired in 2016 after 15 years of working for the city.

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A recent ruling from the New Jersey Supreme Court represents a very positive, and very crucial, clarification of an element of disability discrimination law in this state. Going forward, employees whose employers improperly failed to accommodate their disabilities can be confident that they do not need proof of a separate adverse employment action to win their cases. Now more than ever, if your employer failed to accommodate your disability, you should take aggressive action and seek out a knowledgeable New Jersey disability discrimination lawyer right away.

M.R., the employee in the case the Supreme Court recently addressed, was a middle school science teacher with type I diabetes. At the start of the 2012-13 school year, she received a schedule she considered problematic. The schedule called for her lunch break to start at 1:05 pm. She asked her principal for an earlier lunch period, fearing that such a late lunch could cause her blood sugar problems. Her schedule was not changed.

One day in March 2013, the teacher suffered a diabetes-induced medical trauma during her last class before lunch. She experienced a seizure and became unconscious. In the related fall, she hit her head on a table and bled extensively.

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For a lot of workers who reach the point where it is necessary to file a sexual harassment lawsuit, your employer may try to defeat your case by placing the focus on what you did or did not do, instead of what your harasser did or the company failed to do. Be prepared to fight back and to win your case. An experienced New Jersey employment lawyer can be integral in helping you do exactly that.

R.M. was one of those sexually harassed workers. Not long after she started as a sales trainee at an auto dealership in Pleasantville, a sales manager began sending her text messages stating his attraction to her and asking her to “hang out” privately in the manager’s hotel room. Taking the manager’s texts as an invitation to have sex, the trainee declined.

After the trainee declined a second time – this time in person and at work – the manager allegedly told the trainee to clock out, to leave the dealership “and don’t come back.”

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Deciding to assert your rights through a legal action in court or with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can be very stressful. One thing you shouldn’t have to fear – but too many workers do – is that your employer will retaliate against you for taking that action. If your employer does that, then they may have created an avenue for you to add a retaliation claim to your complaint. An experienced New Jersey employment lawyer can help you identify when that has happened and what you can do about it.

There are several different forms of proof that can be the underpinnings of a valid retaliation claim, but one of the most persuasive ones can be the timing of events in your case. If you have evidence, for example, that your employer found out about your EEOC filing on January 29 and fired you on January 31, that may stand as powerful proof that your employer did not base that termination on legitimate reasons.

One of the most recent examples of this occurred far from New Jersey. D.W. was a dispatch supervisor for a local sheriff in Louisiana, and she was a Black woman. On Feb. 20, she gave her supervisor a doctor’s note that said that, due to her medical condition, she required three 24-hour shifts off every week.

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Men and women who serve or have served in the military have made many sacrifices. One of the sacrifices members of the military should not have to make is tolerating a workplace with discrimination and harassment. If you are serving or have served, and you are experiencing this type of workplace mistreatment, you may be entitled to a judgment and substantial compensation. You should get in touch with a knowledgeable New Jersey workplace discrimination lawyer right away to discuss your legal options.

K.K. allegedly was one of those service members who did have to endure such mistreatment. According to an nj.com report, he was a Marine who, after leaving military service, became a police officer. However, while serving on a force for a borough in Somerset County, he was on the receiving end of an extensive string of offensive comments and other workplace harassment, according to his lawsuit.

Allegedly, the police chief told K.K., who was injured while serving in Iraq and experienced PTSD as a result, after the latter had performed poorly on a shooting exercise, “if you put your gun in your mouth, you wouldn’t miss.” Again noting K.K.’s poor shooting performance, the chief questioned the quality of K.K.’s military service with alleged taunts such as “I thought Marines could shoot, what … kind of Marine are you?”

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For some jobs, a psychological evaluation may be a mandatory part of the application process. While mental fitness may be an important requirement for some jobs, the law does not allow an employer to use this process – or an employer’s outsourcing of this assessment to outside psychologists – as a means to dodge liability for violations of discrimination law. If you think an employer has done that to you, you should get in touch with a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer right away.

A recent disability discrimination case from federal court shows how that potentially can happen. C.G., a police officer and a former Marine, was attempting to join the police force in Pittsburgh. He passed the written exam with flying colors. After that, though, he had to complete a psychological examination process and, when two of the three psychologists recommended not hiring C.G., he didn’t get the job.

C.G. had engaged in misconduct as a juvenile but, as his complaint noted, the department had hired others who had engaged in similar youthful misbehavior. The difference, according to C.G., was that he had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

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If your car needs a new timing belt, you need a trained and skilled auto mechanic. If you need an appendectomy, you need a trained and experienced surgeon. Similarly, if you’ve suffered discrimination at work, your legal case is not the right time to attempt a DIY project. You need the aid of a skilled legal advocate. Trying to “go it alone” can not only weaken parts of your case, it can lead to the commission of errors that eventually do fatal harm to your case. Your case is too important to put at risk, so make sure you act promptly in obtaining a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer.

To back up that point, here is a disability discrimination case that makes for a real-life cautionary tale. The worker, G.W., worked at a mental health and drug rehab center until the center terminated his employment in September 2017.

A year later, G.W. sued in federal court. He alleged many claims, including violations of the Law Against Discrimination, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and the Family Leave Act.

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