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woman walkingThe issue of compliance with overtime and minimum wage requirements is an emerging one within the realm of certain adult entertainment businesses. Many exotic dancers have begun taking their employers to court to claim that the pay they receive doesn’t satisfy the minimum wage. Some clubs have used the “employee versus independent contractor” argument to attempt to escape liability. Others have inserted in their agreements with their dancers clauses requiring arbitration of disputes.

In the case of one Rahway dancer, the dancer was able to avoid being forced into arbitration after the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that arbitration clauses must have specific language to include statutory claims like minimum wage and discrimination, and the dancer’s clause didn’t have that wording. The dancer’s victory here shows once again that, in many employment cases, the difference between success and defeat is in the details, which is why you need a knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorney on your side.

Alissa was an exotic dancer at a men’s club in Rahway. As is often common in this business field, this club required their dancers to sign contracts that stated that the dancers were independent contractors who were merely renting performance space inside the club. The contract also had another common provision:  the arbitration clause. This clause stated that either party could seek to compel arbitration of any dispute that arose under the terms of the contract.

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pregnant womanToo often, women across all fields of work face discriminatory hurdles in their employment. This is especially true for pregnant women and new mothers. Sometimes the bias will be overt comments, while other times it may be more subtle, like the gender makeup of employees let go in a round of layoffs. Regardless of the particular details, if you’ve faced pregnancy discrimination, it’s against the law, and you need skilled New Jersey pregnancy discrimination lawyers to help you through the legal process.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a federal lawsuit against a North Jersey real estate firm, accusing the employer of engaging in pregnancy discrimination against several of its female employees. According to a news report, the EEOC’s complaint contained some shocking allegations, like a firm supervisor who said that women “get stupid” when they get pregnant and that “pregnancy makes you retarded.” For one employee named Brianna, the alleged discrimination included being belittled, being given “onerous” assignments, and eventually being fired. That case is just beginning its path through the system in the District of New Jersey.

Unfortunately, Brianna’s story is not unique. Late last year, the District of New Jersey entered a ruling as part of an engineer’s lawsuit against her former employer for pregnancy discrimination. The engineer, Adrienne, had worked for her employer since 2003. In 2010, the employer valued her enough to promote her to a project engineer position. In September 2012, she notified her employer that she was pregnant. By the following April, the employer had laid Adrienne off.

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footballDisability discrimination can take place in almost any employment setting. Both federal and New Jersey laws require an employer to accommodate, within reason, an employee with a disability unless providing that reasonable accommodation would create an undue hardship for the employer. Regardless of the nature of your work, if you believe you’ve suffered from disability discrimination, you need an experienced New Jersey disability discrimination attorney. Disability discrimination can occur in an office, in construction work, or even in professional sports. One alleged instance of the last category involves a federal lawsuit filed against one of this area’s pro sports teams, according to NBC Sports.

The plaintiff was a relatively successful linebacker for the New York Jets in 2015. Pro Football Focus graded him as the 14th-best inside linebacker. Analysts projected him as a starter for the Jets’ team in 2016. Then, in late October 2016, the Jets surprisingly put him on the “Non-Football Injury” (NFI) list, which meant that he could not play for at least the next eight games (which equals half an entire year), even though his team said that he was not injured at all. The team declined to renew the linebacker’s contract in the offseason.

That move by the team has now landed the two sides in court here in New Jersey. The player alleges that he has bipolar disorder and that the team’s manner of handling his condition, including putting him on the NFI list, constituted disability discrimination in violation of New Jersey and federal laws. He asserted in his lawsuit that his damages included the remainder of his 2016 salary, all of the salary he would have earned in 2017, and a roster bonus payment, totaling $3.3 million, according to the New York Daily News.

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Flag of PalestineThere may be various bases for asserting that you are entitled to pursue a federal employment discrimination case. Certainly, being an African-American or a person of Mexican origin can allow you to assert claims under Title VII. But what if you were subjected to discrimination because you are, say, Armenian…or Kurdish…or Palestinian? A recent case involving a New Jersey high school presented this type of issue for the federal courts here to decide. The case also highlights that a knowledgeable New Jersey national origin discrimination attorney can help you utilize the protections of Title VII to assert your rights to the fullest extent that the law allows.

The employee, Sireen, was a high school history teacher hired by a New Jersey public school district in January 2013 as a student teacher. Shortly thereafter, the school offered Sireen a full-time position.

Allegedly, the problems started soon after she started teaching full-time. Sireen showed her class a video featuring Pakistani activist and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai. The video had been recommended by another teacher (a white woman) who had showed it to her students. Allegedly, a parent complained to the principal about Sireen, and a supervisor told Sireen that she “could not teach current events in the same manner as her non-Arab, non-Palestinian, and non-Muslim colleagues.”

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businessmanIt is said that an “ounce of prevention is worth of a pound of cure.” Unfortunately, sometimes in life, prevention simply isn’t possible. When these circumstances arise, especially when it comes to your employment situation, the most important thing is to make sure that your response is the right one. This is one of many areas where the advice of an experienced New Jersey discrimination attorney can be key. Take for example, the case of two art institute employees, whose federal discrimination lawsuit survived their employer’s attack based upon its institution of an arbitration policy. The lawsuit survived because the men promptly and explicitly rejected the policy, according to a recent Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision that is binding in federal courts in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

The employees, LaMont and Michael, were two men working as assistant directors of admissions at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In 2012, after each received “inexplicably harsh and unfair quarterly” performance reviews, complete with ratings of “below expectations,” each man filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Michael alleged that the review was a pretext for age discrimination. LaMont’s assertions were similar but alleged that the basis in his case was age and race discrimination.

Less than two months after the men filed with the EEOC, the institute’s parent company instituted a company-wide alternative dispute resolution (ADR) policy. The policy established multiple tiers of dispute resolution, with the final tier being binding arbitration. The policy stated that it covered, among other things, all employee claims of discrimination, harassment, or wrongful termination.

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woman walkingAn important New Jersey sexual harassment ruling from the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals is useful for employees who may have been victims of sexual harassment at work. The new ruling highlights who can qualify as a “supervisor” for the purposes of triggering employer liability in a sexual harassment case. The new ruling concluded that a foreman who handed out work assignments did qualify, and the woman he allegedly harassed was entitled to pursue her case.

The case involved Michelle, who, in 2011, obtained work as a substitute custodian with the Atlantic City schools. That meant that Michelle performed work on a “fill-in” basis but was not guaranteed a certain amount of work, or any assignments at all. Interested in increasing her volume of work, Michelle introduced herself to several custodial foremen. One foreman allegedly engaged in multiple acts of harassment. There was unwanted groping, invitations to the foreman’s office where the foreman was sitting unclothed, and promises of favorable work assignments in exchange for sex, according to the woman.

Allegedly fearing that her job was in jeopardy, Michelle had sex with the foreman once, but she consistently rejected his advances after that. Following her rejection of the foreman, the custodian believed that the foreman began treating her differently. She notified Human Resources, which investigated and concluded that the custodian did not suffer from sexual harassment or discrimination.

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GavelSometimes, when an employee is a victim of sexual harassment, the employer may respond quickly and appropriately, following well-established procedures and policies that it created in advance. Many other times, though, that’s not the case, and that latter scenario is something that may give rise to a sexual harassment lawsuit. Your New Jersey sexual harassment attorney can help you analyze your case and decide what a good manner to proceed may be.

One case recently decided by the Appellate Division involved an employee working for a chain of convenience and food stores. When the employee started in 1999, the employer gave her a copy of its employment handbook, which included the business’ anti-sexual harassment policies. At an awards dinner in 2010, one of the company’s loss prevention employees allegedly sexually harassed the woman repeatedly.

The woman reported the harassment on a survey related to the dinner. The employer investigated and reprimanded the loss prevention employee, including a formal written admonishment, mandatory attendance at a sexual harassment training session, and prohibition from future contact with the alleged victim.

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seniorIn any discrimination case, there can be traps and pitfalls that await you as a worker. In some cases, some of these litigation hazards can vary based upon where your lawsuit takes place, which is why an experienced New Jersey age discrimination attorney can be so vital to your case. For example, in some places, the fact that the same person who hired you also fired you soon after hiring you is considered very strong proof that no discriminatory motive existed. This is not true in the Third Circuit, which encompasses New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. In part due to this variation in the law, a man employed in Pennsylvania was able to go forward with his age and disability discrimination case.

The plaintiff in the case, Edward, was 63 when he began working for an employer that managed non-profit retirement communities. Only 14 months after Edward started his job as the entity’s Chief Financial Officer, the employer terminated him. According to the employer, the termination resulted from Edward’s poor performance, specifically, his numerous “errors in financial reports, financial models, and cash sheets.”

The employee sued his former employer. In his action, he alleged that the employer terminated him not because of his mistakes but because of his age (64) and his disability (a heart condition). The employer, in turn, asked the trial judge to issue a summary judgment in its favor. It argued that the evidence brought forward showed that Edward had no case.

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Pregnant womanThirty-nine years ago this fall, President Jimmy Carter signed into law the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Thirty-six years later, Governor Chris Christie signed into law New Jersey’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which added pregnancy discrimination to the list of illegal forms of discrimination under the Law Against Discrimination. Despite all of these advances in statutory laws, though, pregnancy discrimination still occurs, unfortunately. One of the keys, if you think your employer has discriminated against you based upon your pregnancy, is to contact experienced New Jersey discrimination counsel right away. One North Jersey expectant mom did exactly that and, based upon a recent ruling by the Appellate Division, will be able to take her discrimination case to trial.

The pregnant woman was a medical technician at a clinic in Union County. The end of her employment, as described in her complaint, was an unfortunately common scenario. In late July 2014, she notified her employer that she was pregnant, and hers was a high-risk pregnancy. Less than one week later, one of the doctors who ran the clinic ordered her to wash the second-floor windows. In her first 18 months, the technician had received exactly zero directives to clean windows. Allegedly thinking that the doctor was joking, the technician responded, “I don’t do windows.”

The same doctor issued the same command twice more that day. Allegedly, the technician refused each time because, at her diminutive height, cleaning the floor-to-ceiling windows would’ve meant climbing a ladder, which can be very unhealthy for women with high-risk pregnancies. After the third refusal, the doctor fired her.

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Best BuySometimes, the difference between a successful outcome and an unsuccessful one can be seemingly very tiny details. A knowledgeable New Jersey discrimination attorney can provide you with the assistance and representation you need when it comes to identifying those details and using them to your maximum advantage. In the case of one electronics store manager who alleged that his employer fired him due to age discrimination, he was able to pursue his case in the court system, rather than in arbitration, since he successfully persuaded the courts that he only acknowledged receipt of the employer’s new arbitration agreement and never affirmatively assented to it.

The plaintiff was the store manager at a “big box” electronics store in Woodbridge. Early in 2016, the employer sought to introduce a new policy that stated that, if an employee had a complaint that was not resolved internally, the appropriate step to launch a formal legal claim was to pursue arbitration, rather than to go to court.

The employer introduced the policy via something called an “eLearning module.” That module presented the terms of the arbitration policy and instructed the employee that, by continuing to work at the store, the employee was agreeing to be governed by the arbitration policy. The end of the module had an electronic checkbox where the employee would acknowledge having read the new policy.

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