Phillips & Associates
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Today, more and more workplaces are going “paperless,” meaning that they use as little paper as possible. Many of the records and documents that used to reside in hardcopy now exist as digital files or information stored in the cloud. While workplaces going paperless is often a good thing for the planet, it may be a tricky one for some workers who are harmed by workplace discrimination. For some workers seeking to pursue discrimination claims, the pathway to essential information needed to make their cases may be blocked by an employer that claims that the technology platform or app it uses cannot generate the documentation the employee has requested. If you are an employee who encountered this kind (or any other kind) of roadblock to essential proof, a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer can show you how to go about pursuing that evidence.

A.F. was one of those workers: an employee harmed by age discrimination and whose essential evidence was contained in a cloud-based software platform.

A.F. began working in the advertising sales department of a major North Jersey newspaper in 2004. When she took the job, she was 48 years old. After a major media corporation purchased the paper in 2016,

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In most employment discrimination cases, your employer probably is going to come armed with a great many explanations as to why the actions it took were legitimate and permissible. In those cases, the first step often is not to prove conclusively that discrimination occurred; rather, your first goal is to defeat your employer’s motion for summary judgment, which means simply establishing that your evidence is sufficient to show that a genuine factual dispute exists. As you seek to do that (and eventually to proceed forward with your case,) an experienced New Jersey sex discrimination lawyer can help you ensure that your case possesses the evidence and the arguments needed to get past summary judgment and get your day in court before a factfinder.

A.B.’s sex discrimination case was one where establishing that genuine issue of disputed fact was crucial.

In 2008, A.B.’s employer hired her as a manager in its finance department. Two years earlier, it hired R.V., a man, to a manager position in the same department. In 2011, the employer promoted both to senior manager.

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When it comes to matters of discrimination and/or harassment, we all know there are gradations. There are employers who violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination because they made an honest mistake when it comes to the law, such as misconstruing when the law demands that they accommodate a worker’s disability. Other times, though, employers engage in harassment and/or discrimination in ways that are much more nefarious. They discriminate with malice or with reckless indifference to the illegality of their conduct. Sometimes, they also try to wear you down through litigation that is vexatious, frivolous, or advanced in bad faith. When these things occur, it pays to have a skilled New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer on your side to help you get everything you deserve, including awards of punitive damages and attorney’s fees.

A recent South Jersey race and sex discrimination case is an example of an employee who succeeded on both those compensation fronts.

M.H., a Black woman, was the human resources director at a South Jersey housing firm. Her employer, as part of its year-end meetings, presented purportedly lighthearted and humorous slideshows. The HR director, however, recognized many of the pictures’ captions in the 2015 slideshow as inappropriate. According to the lawsuit, the employer attached captions like “I want mine big like these,” “What a nice set,” and “Mary’s are bigger” to photos of female employees who had held balloons to their chests as part of a team-building exercise earlier in the year.

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Generally, when one hears the phrase “national origin discrimination,” one immediately calls to mind discrimination against non-citizens or citizens of certain ancestral backgrounds (such as anti-Asian discrimination, anti-Latino discrimination. etc.) However, the full spectrum of national origin discrimination actually goes beyond that, also including incidents of employment discrimination where U.S. citizens were the group targeted for illegal treatment. While less common, it is just as illegal. If you’ve encountered discrimination based on your national ancestry and/or your immigration status, whether you were an immigrant, a non-citizen temporary worker, or a U.S. citizen, you should contact a knowledgeable New Jersey national origin discrimination lawyer to discuss your legal options.

As noted above, while discrimination against U.S. citizens makes up a minority of all national origin/immigration status cases, it does occur. In fact, one central Jersey employer recently agreed to pay a five-figure settlement for allegedly engaging in that sort of discriminatory conduct.

The employer was an Edison Township-based staffing company that hired workers in the engineering and information technology (IT) industries. Starting at the beginning of 2019 and continuing at least into April 2020, the staffing firm posted a dozen or more IT job listings that said that the successful applicant should be temporary visa workers (such as individuals with H-1B visas.)

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When your employer retaliates against you because you stood up against illegal conduct — such as discrimination or sexual harassment — it has engaged in illegal conduct in New Jersey. That’s equally true whether the action you opposed harmed you or harmed someone else. If you’ve been punished because you spoke out — whether on behalf of yourself or a coworker — you should contact an experienced New Jersey retaliation lawyer about your situation.

As a recent example, there’s the story of a New Jersey police detective who allegedly intervened on a behalf of a coworker experiencing sexual harassment… and suffered a demotion as a result.

R.R. had worked for the Trenton Police Department from 2007 to 2011 (when he lost his job in a round of mass layoffs,) and returned to the force two years later. By 2019, he had risen to become a detective and part of the Shooting Response Team as well as the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, NJ.com reported.

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Many states understand the importance of protecting workers who speak out to expose illegal activities going on inside their workplaces. No state does more to protect these workers — known as “whistleblowers” — than New Jersey. This state’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) is arguably the most worker-friendly of all the states’ whistleblower laws. If you’ve incurred retaliation because you reported illegal conduct (or actions you believed to be illegal,) then you should contact a New Jersey whistleblower protection lawyer and discuss your options.

One very important thing to know, as a recent Appellate Division case illustrates, is that you don’t have to have worked in New Jersey to have a potential whistleblower case.

In that case, S.H. was a laboratory scientist who took a job as the “night clinical supervisor” at a medical laboratory in Houston. An inspection in April 2016 uncovered multiple deficiencies, including issues related to the review and signing of quality control (QC) documents. Further investigation in August exposed continuing problems with the QC issue, as well as “the creation of various standard operating procedures (SOPs.)

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New laws, including a federal bill signed into law this past March, have helped give workers harmed by sexual harassment and/or sexual assault more power over the resolution of those claims. Previously, many employers had successfully moved these cases from the courts to arbitration (via the enforcement of arbitration agreements that they had demanded of their employees at the start of those employees’ employment.) Now, the law places more workers in control of deciding whether their cases go forward in a courtroom or in an arbitration setting. As with any kind of decision about your sexual harassment case, a knowledgeable New Jersey sexual harassment lawyer can provide critical advice about which option makes the most sense for you.

A recent sexual harassment ruling from the Appellate Division court shows the impact of this new law (and others,) and represents a bit of good news for people who are now going to court to file their sexual harassment complaints.

P.R. and his employer signed an employment contract that said that all claims — including issues of discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation — would be subject to arbitration. In June 2021, the employer fired P.R. Six months later, P.R. sued, alleging sexual assault, sexual harassment, and retaliation. The employer sought to enforce the arbitration clause and move the case to an arbitration setting.

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We’d all like to hope that working professionals would, in this day and age, be past the point of using monkey images or monkey sounds as a way to taunt, tease, demean, or intimidate a Black coworker. Sadly, it’s not true. What’s more, many of these alleged instances of vile misconduct occur among the people who promised to protect and serve: the law enforcement community. Whether or not you work in a law enforcement capacity, you should not have to put with monkey jokes/references/pictures/etc. at work. If you have encountered these things on the job, you need to get in touch with an experienced New Jersey race discrimination lawyer right away.

Monkey references/images demean Black people by implying they’re more animal than human. Noose references/images intimidate Black workers by evoking the violence of the lynching of Black people, especially in the American South. In one New Jersey police facility, the perpetrator allegedly combined both of these offensive tropes, according to a report in The Trentonian.

The target, D.J., was a crime scene detective with the Trenton Police Department. During his time in that role, D.J. was the department’s only Black crime scene detective.

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Work-related religious discrimination can occur in many different ways. It may take the form of your employer forbidding you from doing something that’s required by your faith, or your employer demanding that you do something that’s inconsistent with the teachings of your religion. Either way, your employer is required, except in exceptional circumstances, to accommodate your religious beliefs and, if they don’t, you may be entitled to significant compensation through legal action. A knowledgeable New Jersey religious discrimination lawyer can help you determine whether you have a case and, if so, what your next steps should be.

The religious discrimination case surrounding a New Jersey pilot who worked for United Airlines was an example of the latter: an employer requirement that conflicted with the employee’s religion. The pilot had been diagnosed with alcohol dependency, and the Federal Aviation Authority had removed his medical clearance to fly.

United requires pilots with alcohol dependency issues to complete a “HIMS” (Human Intervention Motivation Study) program. HIMS, according to the himsprogram.com website, is “an occupational substance abuse treatment program, specific to pilots, that coordinates the identification, treatment, and return to work process for” pilots affected by substance use issues, helping them to secure new medical clearances to fly.

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We probably all can imagine what a workplace retaliation situation might look like. An employee speaks up against discrimination, harassment, or some other illegal conduct, and for speaking out, that worker loses their job. But job loss is far from the only form of retaliation for which you can take action. In fact, under Title VII, the federal discrimination statute, retaliation can be anything that a reasonable worker would construe to be materially adverse to them. That potentially can be a wide spectrum of things. If you think you’ve endured retaliation at work, get in touch with an experienced New Jersey retaliation lawyer to learn more about your legal options.

As an example, there’s the recent retaliation case of Y.C., an intake officer with the New Jersey Department of Child Protection & Permanency.

For Y.C.’s first 18 months, the department assigned new cases on a “straight rotation” basis. Starting in September 2013, though, the officer’s supervisor instituted a new “modified rotation” system designed to ensure that all new cases involving Spanish-speaking families got assigned to Y.C. or one of the office’s three other Spanish-speaking intake officers. She objected, arguing that the modified rotation system would place a heavier burden on the four bilingual intake officers.

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