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terminationThe news, unfortunately, remains frequently populated by stories of women who suffer from workplace discrimination because of their pregnancies. Whether it is the personal assistant of a famous TV and radio political talk show host (who was fired on her first day back from maternity leave), the Pennsylvania bank employee fired because her employer believed (incorrectly) that she was not planning to return to work after giving birth, or the Georgia warehouse worker fired after her doctor gave her a note restricting her from lifting heavy loads, these stories of women facing harm to their employment situations due to their pregnancies take place too often. Fortunately, in New Jersey, the law has some strong safeguards to protect pregnant women from discrimination on the job. If you think that your pregnancy led your employer to take an adverse action against you at work, you should contact a knowledgeable New Jersey pregnancy discrimination attorney right away.

Pregnancy discrimination is prohibited under both federal and New Jersey laws, since both recognize discrimination against pregnant women as a form of sex discrimination. The federal ban applies to employers with 15 or more employees, while the New Jersey prohibition applies to employers of all sizes. In New Jersey, those anti-discrimination protections also extend to childbirth and “pregnancy-related medical conditions.”

Your employer cannot simply end your employment because your pregnancy has changed what you can and cannot do. Similar to a situation involving an employee with a disability, an employer must attempt to make a reasonable accommodation of the employee’s pregnancy-related limitations. These accommodations might include, for example, allowing extra bathroom breaks or help with certain physical labor.

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signatureOne of the recurring challenges that many people in the workplace face these days is the employer’s requirement that they sign documents waiving certain rights in exchange for employment or continued employment. These agreements can include provisions like clauses that mandate arbitration of all work-related disputes between employer and employee. That can possibly mean that, even if you have very strong proof of illegal harassment or discrimination, you may be blocked from getting that case in front of a jury. As is true of any legal document, especially those that involve forfeiting rights, know before you sign and consult a knowledgeable New Jersey harassment lawyer about the impact those documents could have on you.

One worker whose signature did hurt her harassment case was Kuashema, a salesperson for a furniture store in Hudson County. According to the saleswoman, hers was a hostile work environment. She alleged in a lawsuit that she was subjected to music that used the N-word along with various misogynistic slurs. She also asserted that the N-word and a certain anti-gay slur were frequently used at her work. According to Kuashema, she complained about the work environment conditions, but, not only did the hostile work environment conditions continue, but also the employer fired her in retaliation for making a complaint.

The saleswoman was not able to go forward to trial in her lawsuit, however. Her inability to do so was not a result of any factual weakness in her case. Kuashema’s case was thrown out because, while she still worked for the furniture company, she signed something the employer called the “Associate’s Agreement & Consent.” This document included within it a provision that said that employees agreed to resolve all employment disputes by utilizing the Employee Arbitration Program. In other words, the agreement had a mandatory arbitration clause in it, and Kuashema was, as a result, locked into arbitrating instead of litigating her claim.

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pregnant womanPregnancy discrimination has been against the law in New Jersey for many years. Pregnant women are a protected class under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. Additionally, federal law bans the practice of pregnancy discrimination too. The federal government enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978 to include pregnant women as a class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Both state and federal laws consider pregnancy discrimination to be a form of sex discrimination. The prohibition against discrimination extends beyond just pregnancy, though, since it also applies to childbirth and “pregnancy-related medical conditions.” If you believe you have experienced this kind of harm related to pregnancy, it is important to contact a New Jersey pregnancy discrimination attorney promptly and discuss your options.

Thus, what exactly is pregnancy discrimination? Workplace pregnancy discrimination is any type of adverse employment action against an employee or job candidate based upon the fact that the woman is pregnant. An employer can be liable for pregnancy discrimination even if that employer did not actually know that the woman was pregnant, as long as it reasonably should have known that the employee (or candidate) was pregnant.

The kinds of missteps that an employer can perform that can lead to liability can include firing a pregnant worker or refusing to hire a candidate because she was pregnant. Additionally, an employer that refuses to hire a job candidate because the employer thinks that the employee might become pregnant is potentially liable for pregnancy discrimination as well. Along those lines, if you are a candidate for a job, and your potential employer questions you during the interview process about wanting children, planning to have children, or a desire to start or grow your family, you may have been a victim of illegal discrimination.

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equal payIn recent days, the gender pay gap has been in the headlines with increasing frequency. One of the most nefarious ways to perpetrate gender discrimination, while still maintaining the appearance of objectivity, is to base an employee’s earnings on what she made in her previous jobs. That practice is soon to be illegal in New Jersey. Earlier this year, Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order banning the practice of basing pay on salary history in all state government jobs. Now, the governor has indicated his intent to sign a bill that goes beyond just addressing gender pay equity issues and will stand as one of the most powerful pay equity laws anywhere, protecting workers within a multitude of protected groups, according to an report.

The issue of pay equity has been an important one to the New Jersey legislature for some time. Both houses had passed previous bills requiring pay equity, but the previous governor vetoed those bills. This session, the legislature passed Senate Bill 104, which the governor indicated on Equal Pay Day that he would sign in late April, reported.

One of the bill’s sponsors stated in the report that, once SB104 becomes law, New Jersey will have “the most rigorous protections against pay discrimination.” This pending New Jersey employment discrimination law makes it an illegal employment practice under the Law Against Discrimination to provide a worker who is a member of a protected class with lower pay or lesser benefits when that worker is performing work that is commensurate with higher-paid employees who are not members of any protected classes.

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telecommuterThe New Jersey Law Against Discrimination was originally enacted in 1945. In the decades since, the legislature and the courts have expanded the reach of the LAD in order to reflect various changing realities. A recent decision by the Appellate Division may perhaps open the door for yet another group of workers when it comes to the LAD:  out-of-state telecommuters. This decision highlights how the law can change and how it pays to retain a knowledgeable New Jersey age discrimination attorney if you think you’ve been a victim of age discrimination.

The employee, Susan, had worked for 12 years for a company that was based in Haddonfield. During her employment, she only visited New Jersey a few times on business from 2003-08, and none from 2009-15. During the entire 12-year period, she never lived in New Jersey and never worked here. At all times, Susan worked remotely from her home in Massachusetts. She used an employer-provided laptop to connect to the employer’s computer server, and she used an employer-provided phone to participate in company conference calls.

After the employer terminated her employment, Susan brought a lawsuit in New Jersey, alleging age discrimination in violation of the LAD. The employer asked the court to throw out the lawsuit because Susan did not meet the requirements to bring a LAD lawsuit. The trial judge agreed and threw out the case.

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hashtag for metooSexual harassment is an especially insidious form of workplace misconduct because of the particular extent to which it debases and dehumanizes the victim. This is especially true in one of the two major varieties of sexual harassment, called “quid pro quo” harassment. This type of harassment involves an employer basing employment decisions (hiring, firing, promotion, demotion, number of hours assigned, etc.) on the employee’s willingness or unwillingness to submit to unwanted sexual advances. All workers have a right to perform their jobs without being subjected to these types of unethical behaviors, and to have their work judged on their merit, rather than on the provision (or refusal) of sexual favors. If you have suffered from quid pro quo sexual harassment, or hostile work environment harassment, you should contact an experienced New Jersey sexual harassment attorney promptly about your situation.

“Quid pro quo” is a Latin phrase that generally translates to “something for something.” As the courts have clearly indicated, this can exist in more than one possible way. One way is when submitting to such demands is “made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment.” (In other words, providing sex becomes part of the arrangement for employment.) The other is when “submission to or rejection of [sex] is used as the basis for employment decisions.” (In other words, the employer takes an employment action regarding an employee because that employee did or did not provide sex.)

All of these types of quid pro quo sexual harassment are illegal under both federal and state laws. Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination on several bases, including sex. The law has made it very clear that sexual harassment is a type of discrimination based upon sex. Additionally, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination bars both quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment harassment.

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harassmentIn the age of the #metoo movement, sexual harassment is in the news now more than ever. Various employers are taking a renewed look at how to eliminate harassment and abuse in their workplaces. With regard to the law in New Jersey, there are actually multiple different ways that you can be a victim of sexual harassment at work. One way involves someone at work basing your employment treatment (such as promotions/demotions, raises, or continued employment) on whether or not you provide sexual favors to that person.

Another form of harassment occurs when behaviors toward you, which might possibly include groping, touching, comments not appropriate for work, explicit or vulgar jokes, insults, epithets, or pornography, become so extreme or extensive that they would make any reasonable person feel intimidated or threatened. This latter form of harassment is called hostile work environment, and it can be the basis of a valid sexual harassment lawsuit under both the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and federal law. If you have suffered sexual harassment so hostile that it altered the conditions of your job, you should reach out right away to a New Jersey hostile work environment attorney.

In order to have a winnable claim of hostile work environment sexual harassment, you have to demonstrate to the court that the harassment you endured was either “severe or pervasive.” It is possible to have a valid hostile work environment claim based upon only a single incident if that single event was sufficiently extreme and offensive. A federal court last year decided that two African-American men had a valid harassment case based upon a supervisor’s single use of the “n-word.” While that wasn’t an incident of sexual harassment, the workers’ success in court illustrates how a plaintiff can succeed with only evidence of isolated acts if those acts (or single act) were adequately egregious.

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Sexual harassmentIf you’re familiar with Latin words used in the law, you’ve probably heard the phrase “quid pro quo.” Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that basically means “something for something.” Quid pro quo sexual harassment is a situation in which someone offers improper employment benefits in exchange for sex, or, more commonly, an employee suffers harm on the job as a result of refusing sexual advances. This can be one of the most intimidating forms of sexual harassment, since it places you in fear of losing your income. If you’ve suffered from quid pro quo harassment at work, you should reach out right away to a knowledgeable New Jersey sexual harassment attorney.

One employee whose case was an example of this type of harassment was Rochelle, an employee of a major auto parts store. The harassment of Rochelle began only two months after she started a sales representative position at the chain’s Newark location. Nicola began telling others that Rochelle was a prostitute. Rochelle complained, but Nicola retaliated by increasing Rochelle’s workload. The store manager also allegedly suspended Rochelle for complaining about the harassment.

Eventually, Rochelle complained to human resources, and they transferred her to the Irvington store. There, the parts sales manager made unwanted sexual advances toward, and contact with, Rochelle. After Rochelle rejected the man’s sexual advances, he retaliated against her at work. When the corporate headquarters learned of the harassment at Irvington, they transferred Rochelle to the East Orange store. The employer also, however, transferred Rochelle’s harasser from Irvington to East Orange. At East Orange, the man retaliated against Rochelle for not giving him sex by cutting her hours from 40 per week to 32. Rochelle also alleged in her lawsuit that she was denied a promotion because she complained to human resources about the harassment.

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State HouseIf you follow the news as it relates to politics and the law, you are probably familiar with the many stories about federal courts wrestling with questions regarding how far the protections of federal anti-discrimination law extend, particularly as it relates to sexual orientation and gender identity. Fortunately for workers here, New Jersey has a state law that extends the legal prohibitions against discrimination even further than the federal law does. As a worker in New Jersey, the Law Against Discrimination protects you from a wide array of forms of discrimination at work. Whether you’ve been fired, demoted, denied promotion, harassed, or otherwise harmed at work due to discrimination, you may have a claim for recovery through a civil action under the Law Against Discrimination. To find out more about your rights and how you can potentially obtain monetary compensation due to workplace discrimination, you should reach out to a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination attorney.

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination was originally signed into law in 1945. In the nearly 75 years since then, it has been amended several times to expand the range of protections it offers. Most people probably know that this law protects workers from employment discrimination based on race, sex, creed/religion, national origin, age, and disability. However, New Jersey’s does much more.

As noted above, while the federal courts are wrangling with the exact boundaries of the federal anti-discrimination law (Title VII) regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, in New Jersey there is no doubt, since the Law Against Discrimination expressly bans discrimination at work based upon an employee or employment candidate’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

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courtroomThere are several hurdles you have to clear on your way to a successful outcome in your New Jersey age discrimination lawsuit. One of the first of these is overcoming your employer’s motion for summary judgment, which is a legal request that the judge end your case before it gets to trial. There are a specific set of things that you have to demonstrate and assert to the court to get past this hurdle and get your trial. To give your case the best chance of getting its full day in court, be sure that you work with New Jersey employment counsel skilled in discrimination litigation.

Recently, one New Jersey employee’s age discrimination lawsuit offered an example of clearing this summary judgment hurdle. The employee, Judith, was a human resources professional who took a job in human resources management with an entertainment corporation in December 2013. Just one year later, the employer terminated her. She was 62 years old at the time that her employment ended.

Judith filed an age discrimination lawsuit under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. When you are bringing an age discrimination action under state law, there are several things that you have to demonstrate to the court in order to achieve a successful outcome or, potentially, even to bring your case to trial. You have to show that you were part of a protected class, that you were qualified to do your job, that you were terminated, and that you were terminated because of your membership in that protected class and replaced with someone younger.

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