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police carA multi-year veteran of a New Jersey police department recently obtained a $300,000 settlement in order to end his racial discrimination case. The officer’s complaint centered on a combination of racially offensive behaviors and the department’s failure to take proper action in response to his reporting those inappropriate actions. If you’ve been a victim of racial discrimination, you should contact an experienced New Jersey race discrimination attorney, who can help you pursue your case and also make vital decisions like whether to accept or decline a settlement offer from your employer.

The officer in the case, Washington, was a lieutenant in the police department. The lieutenant, who was African-American, had been with the police department since 1989 but began noticing certain problems on the job. There was the racist graffiti allegedly scrawled in the police headquarters bathroom. There was also a white officer’s alleged statement that he would never take orders from an African-American sergeant, which was problematic because the officer didn’t say “black”; he used a racial epithet instead, according to a report by northjersey.com.

Washington brought these incidents of racially hostile behavior to Internal Affairs, but the department did very little, according to the lieutenant. The department allegedly took no action against the epithet-using officer other than to transfer him to another assignment.

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handshakeAn old saying cautions, “Be careful what you wish for…you just might get it.” Along a similar line, it is also extremely important, particularly when it comes to legal matters, to be careful about what you consent to do because you just might be unable to change your mind later. One area in which this can be true is when it comes to entering an agreement to arbitrate your New Jersey discrimination case. Before you agree to arbitrate, settle, or make any major decision in your case, make sure you have first consulted with an experienced New Jersey discrimination attorney.

A hair products company’s employee learned this concept in a difficult way in his case. Jang, the employee, filed a complaint against the hair company in 2016, alleging that it had violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

Today, many employers include mandatory arbitration clauses in their employment agreements. These provisions say that if you, as an employee, file a certain type of legal claim, the employer is entitled to demand that the case be resolved in arbitration instead of in court. Employees who have these types of clauses in their employment contracts should be sure to consult counsel before bringing legal action. The employer will almost certainly seek to enforce the clause and demand arbitration. However, if the agreement is too vague or too one-sided, you may be entitled to a court order declaring the clause unenforceable, which would allow your civil court case to continue.

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guard towerA recent report from the Trentonian discussed a female corrections officer’s successful sex discrimination case. The jury in the case returned a verdict that awarded the employee just under $317,000 in damages. The report also noted that the woman, who was white, has a second discrimination lawsuit – this one for race discrimination – still pending. The officer’s discrimination-based legal actions highlight several useful bits of knowledge regarding who can pursue discrimination claims and whether or not you can bring multiple discrimination actions. Whether your case involves one basis for claiming illegal workplace discrimination or several, it pays to have an experienced New Jersey sex discrimination attorney on your side.

The employee, Jennifer, was a senior corrections officer at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. According to the officer, her supervisor, Zsuzsanna, treated her less favorably than Jennifer’s male peers, according to the Trentonian report. It is important to note that, in order to have a successful discrimination case, you do not have to prove that you and the person who committed the discrimination were of different groups. In other words, a female employee can have a winning case of sex discrimination even if the supervisor who is doing the discriminating is also a woman. The female employee only needs to prove that she was treated less favorably than her male counterparts.

For Jennifer, the alleged discrimination included verbal insults (“idiot”) and re-assignment to a less desirable position (while her old position was filled by a man). At one point, Jennifer was allegedly ordered to “haul multiple food-cart loads and deliver boxes of food that weighed 300 to 400 pounds” by herself, a job usually carried out by mailroom workers. This solo assignment, Jennifer asserted, represented a clear signal to others that Jennifer was being punished by upper management. After completing this assignment, the officer developed a stress fracture in her back.

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mental illnessMost people have heard the term “bipolar disorder,” or perhaps the older descriptor “manic depression,” but they may not know exactly how common the disorder truly is. The National Institute of Mental Health’s website reports that bipolar disorder, which is defined as “a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out daily tasks,” affected nearly 3 percent of U.S. adults in the past year. Nearly 4.5 percent of U.S. adults will experience bipolar disorder at some point in their lifetimes. If you have suffered discrimination on the job due to your bipolar disorder or another medical condition, you should reach out to a New Jersey disability discrimination attorney about your situation.

What protection does the law provide to people with bipolar disorder when it comes to workplace discrimination? The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination says that a “disability” under the law can be either a physical disability or a “mental, psychological or developmental disability that results from conditions that prevent the normal exercise of any bodily or mental function.” This type of disability includes conditions like depression, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit disorder, and bipolar disorder (among others).

As people with bipolar disorder know, there are two very distinct sets of challenges they face that can affect their work. One set is the symptoms of the disorder itself, when their bipolar disorder is either untreated or not yet under control. The other is the side effects of the drugs that are often needed by many people to bring their bipolar disorder under control. Some people with bipolar disorder may need powerful medications that can have many side effects. These can include drowsiness or trouble waking in the morning, increased need to urinate, or nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

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African-AmericanWhen a co-worker, a supervisor, or even someone who is on-site but doesn’t work for your employer uses racial slurs or epithets, that potentially creates a hostile work environment. As an African-American employee, you do need to have suffered daily slurs and abuse for months or years in order to have a hostile work environment case. Sometimes, even a single utterance may be severe enough to prove the existence of a hostile work environment if that utterance was the N-word. The important thing is to retain an experienced New Jersey discrimination attorney to represent you and help you in protecting your right to be free from an abusive or hostile work environment.

Some people may have heard the words “severe” and “pervasive” when it comes to hostile work environment law and may mistakenly believe that, in order to win a discrimination case, an employee has to show that the discriminatory acts were both bad (severe) and ongoing for a period of time (pervasive). That’s incorrect. The law says that misconduct that is either severe or pervasive can be enough to demonstrate a hostile work environment and create a viable racial discrimination case.

So what exactly is needed to show misconduct that was severe or pervasive? If your only proof is a single racial slur, can you win a discrimination case? Potentially, yes! Last summer, the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings cover New Jersey in addition to Delaware and Pennsylvania) ruled in favor of a pair of workers who suffered discrimination at work. A supervisor instructed two African-Americans to fix a fence and told them that if they jerry-rigged the job, they’d be fired. The supervisor, however, didn’t use the word “jerry-rigged,” but instead a similar hyphenated word that included the N-word epithet.

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PoliceThere are many different areas in which an employer can be liable for illegal discrimination. An employer isn’t liable, though, if the employee didn’t meet the qualifications for the job in question. Thus, if a job’s legal requirements demand that the employee be a U.S. citizen, a non-citizen is technically not qualified for that job. If citizenship isn’t a requirement, though, an employer’s decision to discriminate against a non-citizen based upon his national origin could give the non-citizen a potential case. If you’ve been a victim of discrimination based upon your national origin, you should contact a knowledgeable New Jersey nationality discrimination attorney promptly to discuss your case.

One non-citizen whose case presented such a scenario was James, a campus security guard at a private research university in Hoboken. James had emigrated to the United States in 1992 and married an American woman, but he never became a citizen himself. Shortly after arriving in the United States, James started his campus security employment. The employer did not require that its campus security officers be U.S. citizens and knew that James was not when it hired him.

After a former investigator from the local prosecutor’s office became chief of campus security, the new chief allegedly began recruiting his friends and former associates to the campus force. Some campus officers referred to the campus security force as a “retirement home for ex-cops.” According to James, the chief began looking for ways to terminate him in order to recruit a friend to fill James’ position.

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yarmulkeAccording to a recent announcement from the Attorney General’s Office, an auto parts store employee received a $10,000 payment and the Attorney General received a promise of internal changes at the business in the wake of an employee’s complaint that the employer cut his hours after he asked not to be scheduled to work during Jewish holidays or on the Sabbath. The case highlights the strong protections New Jersey law creates for employees wishing to observe sincerely held religious practices, as well as the consequences for employers who fail to make a good-faith attempt to interact with a religious employee about his need and reasonably accommodate those religious needs. If you’ve suffered from discrimination or harassment at work because of your faithful observance of your religion, you should reach out right away to an experienced New Jersey religious discrimination attorney.

The employee in the auto parts store case, Ron, worked at the chain’s Hazlet location. Ron generally had been working three or four shifts a week, according to the Attorney General’s Office. Then, one day, Ron asked not to be scheduled for shifts that included Saturday hours or Friday hours after sunset. The employee made this request because he was Jewish and faithfully observed the Sabbath. He also asked to be off on certain Jewish holidays. After Ron made the request, he allegedly received a very different schedule, with the store scheduling him to work only one shift per week.

Believing that the employer cut his hours because he made the religious accommodation request, Ron filed a complaint with the state’s Division of Civil Rights. That agency investigated and concluded that the employer did not meet its legal obligation to accommodate Ron’s religious practice. Under changes to the Law Against Discrimination that took effect back in 2008, an employer has a statutory obligation to accommodate its employees’ “sincerely held religious observance or practice.”

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breastfeedingNew Jersey has expanded the array of people protected from discrimination under the Law Against Discrimination. Starting in January 2018, New Jersey is the 18th state to prohibit employers from engaging in workplace discrimination against women who are breastfeeding. The additions to the NJLAD also require employers to provide accommodations to breastfeeding mothers in order to allow them to take breaks to nurse or pump at work. If you suffer adverse employment treatment due to your breastfeeding, or your employer does not provide you with a proper accommodation for feeding or pumping, you may have a legal case against your employer. As with any instance of workplace discrimination, you should contact an experienced New Jersey pregnancy discrimination attorney to discuss your rights and your options.

The new law, which was signed by the governor on Jan. 8 and went into effect immediately, added breastfeeding as one of the bases upon which employers cannot discriminate in New Jersey, nj.com reported. This places breastfeeding alongside pregnancy, sex, marital status, race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, affectional or sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity or expression, and disability (among other things) as prohibited bases of workplace discrimination under the Law Against Discrimination.

The law includes both the activities of directly feeding the child and pumping breast milk for use later. The new provision requires employers, as an accommodation, to provide nursing employees with a private space in which to express milk. That space must be near the nursing mother’s work station and must not be a toilet.

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prayingAnti-discrimination laws are clear that an employer cannot discriminate against employees based upon their religion. This, however, leads to another question:  what does or does not count as a religion under federal law? One recent case involving a hospital worker offers some perspective on this issue. Although the worker lost his discrimination case, the court’s opinion makes it clear that the range of beliefs that qualify as a religion is broader than one might assume. For advice about this and other areas of employment discrimination law, talk to a knowledgeable New Jersey religious discrimination attorney.

The hospital worker, Paul, had been an employee of a Catholic hospital in southwest Philadelphia since 1994. In 2012, the hospital required its employees to receive a flu vaccination or else submit a form indicating that the employee was medically exempt or exempt based upon religious beliefs.

Paul did not belong to any organized religion. He held strong personal convictions when it came to receiving vaccines, but they were not connected to any religion. In the first two years, Paul submitted the religious exemption form with a lengthy piece of prose explaining his beliefs. Each time, the hospital granted him an exemption. In 2014, the worker submitted the same paperwork and essay. This time, the employer denied the exemption. It required that Paul provide a letter from a clergyperson related to his beliefs, which he could not do. On Dec. 31, 2014, the hospital terminated the worker for not complying with the flu vaccination rule.

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nurseIf you have been harmed at work because your employer discriminated against you due to your sex, race, religion, or some other illegal basis, you are probably frustrated and upset. You also likely want justice for the harm you’ve suffered. You may desire to take your case to court, but you may be concerned about the cost of legal fees. As many real-life examples of self-represented workers in race discrimination cases illustrate, though, you can’t afford not to have a knowledgeable New Jersey race discrimination lawyer on your side to litigate your case. Your skilled attorney can guide you through what to do, and what not to do, in the pursuit of your damages.

An example of a self-represented worker who did not meet with success was Willie, a registered nurse who, in the fall of 2011, took a job at a substance abuse and mental health treatment facility near Newark. Willie’s primary assignment placed her on a floor dedicated to rehab patients. Sometimes, though, the hospital would send her to work on another floor dedicated to the hospital’s detox program. Working in the detox unit was apparently a more unfavorable assignment than working on a rehab floor.

The nurse became frustrated with her assignments to the detox floor. She believed that the hospital frequently sent her to the detox floor because of her race and color. According to Willie, the hospital sent her to the detox program twice as often as Mikola, a white nurse assigned to the same rehab floor as Willie. This led Willie to file a claim with the EEOC and, subsequently, to sue her employer for race discrimination in violation of Title VII.

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