Phillips & Associates
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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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Great strides have been made in the last 30 years to eradicate discrimination against people with disabilities. If the proposed version of the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 becomes law, another vestige of legally allowable discrimination against workers with disabilities will be gone, as the law will eliminate the ability of employers to pay people with disabilities subminimum wages. Whenever you think you’ve been the target of disability discrimination at work, you should seek out a knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorney for answers to the questions you have.

The move to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour has been in the headlines a lot recently. The State of New Jersey already has a $15-per-hour minimum wage law on the books. That law makes the state minimum wage $12 per hour for 2021, $13 for 2022, $14 for 2023, and $15 for 2024.

What that state law didn’t do, however, was end the practice of allowing employers to pay people with disabilities subminimum wages. That practice began in 1938 when the federal government enacted the Fair Labor Standards Act, which created the first federally-mandated minimum wage.

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The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination’s employment discrimination protections for breastfeeding mothers are among some of the stronger ones in the country. A group within the University of California, Hastings College of Law placed New Jersey (along with New York) in a group of 12 states boasting the “most proactive laws” when it comes to protecting breastfeeding mothers in the workplace. Unfortunately, even with these laws on the books, discrimination against working women who are also breastfeeding mothers occurs far more often than it should. If you are a working mom and your employer isn’t giving you a reasonable accommodation for nursing or pumping, or has taken adverse action against you because of these activities, then that employer may be in violation of the law and you may be entitled to significant compensation. Contact an experienced New Jersey employment discrimination attorney to find out more.

A recent report from Patch shows an alleged example of pregnancy discrimination that is all too typical. According to an action taken by the Division on Civil Rights, the harmed employee was a new mom who worked for the Burlington location of a chain of discount vision service and eyewear stores.

Allegedly, after the new mother returned from her approved maternity leave, her employer switched her from full-time hours to part-time. This, of course, has a particularly harmful effect on many employees (including this mom) because the difference between full-time hours and part-time hours often means the difference between being eligible for healthcare benefits for you and your family, and being ineligible.

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