Phillips & Associates
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Today, in business news, one hears a lot about the “global economy.” That can mean a lot of things, from a remote employee who telecommutes halfway across the country to an on-site worker who is employed by a corporate conglomerate based several states away.

How and why does all that matter when you’re the victim of employment discrimination or workplace harassment? It matters because the laws in each state are different and some states, such as New Jersey, offer greater protection to workers than others do. This means that pursuing your case in New Jersey could very possibly be more beneficial than going to court elsewhere and could be the difference between success and defeat. To find out all about seeking compensation under the Law Against Discrimination, be sure you consult an experienced New Jersey employment attorney about your options.

The most recent example of this type of boundary-crossing employment law issue was the case of D.C. D.C. lived in Quincy, Illinois and worked for a Quincy-based company as a vice president of marketing. D.C. also allegedly was the victim of workplace association discrimination. His employer allegedly discriminated against him because of his wife’s disability. (The wife had terminal breast cancer.) That discrimination took the form, first, of a failure to promote and then, later, a wrongful termination, according to D.C.’s lawsuit.

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A New Jersey police officer received good news regarding his civil service claim alleging racial discrimination recently. The Appellate Division gave his case new life, asserting that when a civil service employee provides proof of discrimination as strong as this worker did, then a hearing should be held to determine each side’s credibility, and failure to hold that hearing is arbitrary and unreasonable.

There are several hurdles to clear in order to succeed in any discrimination claim. You should be sure you have a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination attorney on your side at every step in the process.

The employee, R.B., was a police officer with a force in South Jersey for 16 years. He applied several times for promotion to sergeant but was not successful. In 2014, he was fourth on the civil service exam result list and was bypassed for a white officer who was first. In 2016, he was second on the exam results list, and was rejected in favor of the first, third and fourth-highest examinees. The officer, who was African-American, sued for racial discrimination.

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Sometimes, you may run across a story about an employee who was harmed in a situation similar to your own. If, at the end, that employee loses her case, it may easy to become discouraged. Don’t give in to that impulse. Each case has its own unique set of facts. It may turn out that the facts in the unsuccessful employee’s case were especially unfavorable or there were important things that were different from your own circumstance. To get the best sense of the strengths or challenges involved in your potential discrimination or harassment claim, what you need is the advice of an experienced New Jersey employment attorney.

M.B. was a worker who lost her case, but her setback can be very instructive for other workers who suffer employment discrimination. M.B. worked as a manager for a fitness center in New Jersey from 2011 until Aug. 19, 2016. She was fired, allegedly, for “poor performance, undocumented absences, and insubordination.” The manager, though, identified a different reason for her termination: her race. So, she filed a Law Against Discrimination action.

The employer asked the judge to order the two sides to arbitration, and employee contested going to arbitration. The courts ruled for the employer.

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It is a general rule of the law that, if you have a disability (or a perceived disability) and your employer imposes an adverse employment action against you (such as termination, demotion, reduction in pay, reduction in hours, reassignment of duties, etc.) because of that disability, then you can pursue a disability discrimination action.

However, what if your employer never inflicted any of those things against you? Does the absence of that fact mean that you are “out of luck” when it comes to seeking much-needed compensation for disability discrimination? According to a recent Appellate Division ruling, the answer is “no.” This important employee victory in court is a reminder that, if you think you’ve been harmed on the job due to your disability, you should always take the time to contact an experienced New Jersey employment attorney and discuss the options that may exist for you.

In that recent case, M.R. was a middle school teacher in a school district in Bergen County who had Type I diabetes. During the 2012-13 school year, her schedule called for her to take lunch starting at 1:05 pm. The teacher believed that, due to the drugs she took for her diabetes, eating lunch that late could negatively affect her blood sugar levels.

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It takes a lot to succeed in a New Jersey discrimination lawsuit. You need proof you were a member of protected class (race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, etc.), evidence that you suffered harm at work (termination, demotion, change of job duties, reduction in hours, reduction in pay, etc.) based on that membership and proof that any legitimate reason the employer gave for its action was really just a pretext for discrimination.

But you can have all that and still lose. In fact, you can have all that and never even get your day in court. How? Procedural errors, which can include things like filing too late, after the deadline has passed. Make a mistake like this and your case may be dismissed without any of your factual evidence ever getting before a court. This is one reason among countless ones why it pays to have an experienced and diligent New Jersey discrimination attorney on your side.

The limitations period for filing a discrimination lawsuit in New Jersey is two years. There are many reasons why you may need to wait to file until very near the deadline. When you’ve filed close to the deadline, your skilled counsel can help you overcome arguments by the defense that your filing was tardy when it was actually on time.

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A New Jersey police officer’s successful lawsuit asserting both military service and sexual orientation discrimination ended with a damages award that exceeded $1.75 million, according to a recent nj.com report. While what the employee endured was terrible, the outcome of his case is educational to others working in New Jersey in multiple ways. The outcome should remind any New Jersey worker victimized by discrimination that they have options, and that those options can lead to substantial compensation. Contact an experienced New Jersey employment attorney right away to learn more about the options you have in your discrimination case.

The police officer, K.H., worked in the Monmouth County borough of Sea Girt. The officer was a member of the Navy reserves during his time with the Sea Girt police. According to the report, the officer’s chief made statements that indicated that the chief thought the officer was a gay man or was bisexual. (He was neither.)

The chief engaged in a lengthy pattern of sexual harassment and discrimination. According to the officer’s lawsuit filing, the chief:

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Imagine you’ve been the victim of illegal discrimination at work. You sued, you won, you received an award of damages and the court closed the case. Barring an appeal, that’s the end, right? Not always, especially for workers who remain working for the same employer that discriminated against them. Too many times, unfortunately, workers who rightfully assert their right to utilize the legal system to protect themselves against discrimination suffer reprisals by their employers for having done so.

When that happens, that punishment may well be a violation of the law, too, and may entitle the worker to an additional award of compensation. To learn exactly what the law allows you to do as a result of the illegal discrimination and/or retaliation you suffered, be sure to contact an experienced New Jersey discrimination attorney to discuss the facts of your situation.

N.J. was a New Jersey worker in that type of difficult circumstance. N.J., an African-American and an employee of a New Jersey state regulatory agency, sued his employer in 2011, alleging that he was the victim of a hostile work environment based upon his race. The employer and employee settled that case, with the employer agreeing to pay the employee a settlement of $125,000.

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Whether it is modern restaurant establishments like “Hooters” (and other similar chains) that rose to fame in the 1990s, or more vintage businesses like the Playboy Clubs of the 1960s, some businesses have offered visitors female employees dressed in tight and/or revealing uniforms for many decades.

Whether they are/were employing “Hooters Girls” or Playboy “Bunnies”, these kinds of employers are obviously seeking to create a certain atmosphere at their businesses. However, is there a point at which the rules imposed by this type of employer may constitute a form of illegal harassment or discrimination under New Jersey law? A recent ruling from the Appellate Division court indicates that the answer may be “yes.”

The recent case involved 21 women who worked as “Babes” at an Atlantic City casino and spa. At the casino, Babes, who worked as beverage servers, could be male or female. The program required all Babes to adhere to strict appearance standards. Male Babes were expected to have broad shoulders and a slim waist. Female Babes were required to maintain a “natural hourglass shape.”

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In a lot of law blogs and other items that come from lawyers and law firms, you’ll probably hear the admonition, “Any time you are signing any legal document, be sure that you understand everything on that document before you put a pen on the paper,” or words to that effect. This warning comes up a lot because it is very good, and very important, advice. Almost any document has certain provisions and clauses that potentially could impact your rights or legal options later. Being sure you know before you sign is one way to avoid getting subsequently caught in a trap. If you are at all unsure about a document your employer is asking you to sign, reach out to a knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorney.

What do we mean by “trapped” later? Here’s a case from Passaic County that’s an example. G.M. worked for the county. G.M. had very severe arthritis. She took strong medications that worked as immunity suppressants, which meant that the employee was at an increased risk of suffering infections due to the drugs’ suppression of her immune system’s natural responses in fighting those infections.

At one point during her employment, G.M. found it necessary to ask for a period of medical leave. She made the request and the employer granted it. As part of that process, though, the employer asked the worker to sign certain documents. One of the documents included a provision that stated that the employee was “unable to perform all essential functions required by [her] employer.” By signing the document, G.M. was acknowledging that this was true. She signed the paper.

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Discrimination can come in many forms. One of those forms is through the policies that an employer creates and enforces. Sometimes, the discriminatory nature of those policies is fairly obvious; other times, it can be much more subtle. Take for example, restrictions on workers’ hairstyles. On the surface, it may appear to be an effort to ensure a professional appearance among all employees. Under the surface, it may be something that actually discriminates against certain races, like African Americans. If you think that you’ve suffered race discrimination at work, whether it was fairly overt or much more subtle, be sure you know your rights and your options. Contact an experienced New Jersey employment attorney promptly about your situation.

Some cities and states have taken action to eradicate this system of discriminating against certain races via hairstyle policies. Late in April, USA Today reported that the California Senate passed a bill that, if also passed by the state Assembly and signed by the governor, would include discrimination based upon an employee or job applicant’s natural hairstyles among the list of impermissible forms of discrimination covered by that state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. This includes hairstyles like Afros, braids or twists, which are commonly worn by African Americans.

The argument for laws like this is that, while employers cannot discriminate against African Americans explicitly, by banning certain hairstyles, they can reject African Americans’ applications, deny their promotions and even terminate their employment on a disproportionate basis. Declaring these types of policies to be a form of workplace race discrimination would protect African-American employees. According to the California senator who authored the new bill, many African-American workers in past generations have been forced to use expensive and potentially damaging chemicals on their hair to make it compliant with some employers’ sets of rules, USA Today reported.

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