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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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gavel and scalesIn some New Jersey discrimination and retaliation cases, the employer’s action may be motivated plainly by discriminatory intent. In a lot of cases, though, employers are motivated in the actions they take by a mixture of discriminatory bases and legitimate bases. An important new decision from the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals, whose decisions cover New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, decided that an employee could use a mixed-motive theory in his case alleging that his employer discriminated against him for using Family and Medical Leave Act leave. Understanding all of the methods for pursuing your discrimination case and properly employing the right ones is just one of a wide array of areas in which your New Jersey discrimination attorney can provide invaluable aid to your case.

The plaintiff in the recent federal case was a man who took a job as a projects manager in 2008. At that time, he had suffered from migraines for 13 years, dating back to a 1995 accident. In March 2012, the employer transferred the manager to its engineering department. The job transfer almost immediately triggered a spike in the manager’s migraine problems. Just one month later, he applied for FMLA leave and was approved for intermittent FMLA leave.

By the following October, the employer terminated the manager. The manager sued, asserting a claim that, among other things, the employer discriminated against him for his seeking and using FMLA leave. The manager’s case asserted that the employer was motivated by a mixture of legitimate and discriminatory reasons, which is known as a “mixed-motive” theory of liability. In some situations, an employee’s case may assert that the employer’s motivation was completely discriminatory, but, in many cases, the employer is driven by a mixture of legitimate and improper impulses.

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nurseIn general, the law opposes employers discriminating against employees based upon a disability or a perceived disability. This isn’t true, though, when an employee’s disability could translate to a risk to herself, her co-workers, or the employer’s customers or clients. The key then, for any employee pursuing a New Jersey disability discrimination case, is to show that such a risk doesn’t exist. For one North Jersey nurse, the fact that there was no proof that she was a “materially enhanced risk of serious harm” to herself, her patients, or her co-workers meant that she was allowed to go forward with her disability discrimination case, according to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

The plaintiff was an experienced registered nurse who had begun, in 2000, working in a hospital unit where roughly 50% of the patients were stroke victims. These patients needed considerable assistance with regular daily activities. Starting in 2007, the nurse had several work-related accidents. First, she injured her left shoulder moving a patient. That injury required surgery. Then she injured her right shoulder a year later. That injury required no medical action. Then she re-injured her left shoulder, requiring another surgery. Finally, she injured her cervical spine, which required back surgery.

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African-American WorkerDiscrimination and harassment based upon race can take different forms and patterns in the workplace. In some situations, it may be more subtle and frequent, with veiled or oblique comments or actions occurring often. Sometimes, the frequency is much less, but the discrimination or harassment is far from subtle or oblique. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed the latter scenario, entering an important ruling on behalf of future New Jersey race discrimination and harassment victims in the workplace. The ruling clarifies that an employee may have a case if he proves that the improper conduct was pervasive or was severe, and, depending on other circumstances, even a single use of the most extremely offensive racial slur could be enough to meet the standard for “severe.”

Atron and John were two African-American men hired as general laborers to work on an energy company’s pipeline project. One day, while the men were working on a fence removal task, a supervisor allegedly told them that, if they completed the work in a particularly shoddy manner, they would be fired. The supervisor didn’t use the word “shoddy,” though, instead using a descriptor that incorporated the N-word. The alleged statement was made in front of other non-African-American workers.

The men reported this slur to a superior. Shortly thereafter, they were fired. After their terminations, the men sued for harassment, racial discrimination, and retaliation. The federal District Court assigned to the case threw it out, concluding that the law required proof that the alleged misconduct was “pervasive and regular,” and these men’s case, which rested primarily upon the one-time use of the N-word, could not possibly meet this legal hurdle.

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interview sampleSometimes, if you are pursuing a case alleging employment discrimination in the hiring process, the existence of an employer’s formal and objective system for selecting new hires can be a major hindrance to your case. Other times, though, it can actually help. In the recent case of two employment candidates in their 50s and 60s, the latter was true after they were able to prove that the employer passed over them to hire lower-ranking candidates who were in their 30s and 20s. The deviation from the ranking system was enough to give the men a viable claim of age discrimination, according to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

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scales of justiceThe case of a Delaware professor, who claimed that her employer fired her in retaliation for making a sexual harassment and discrimination complaint, got new life after the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in the matter recently. Although the case might require proof that the employer would not have fired her but for the complaint, that level of proof wasn’t required to make a prima facie showing of retaliation, so she should have been allowed to proceed.

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law booksA sales employee for a large corporation lost her job at age 45 when her employer terminated her and replaced her with another employee who was only 38. Although the two employees’ age difference was less than 10 years, the fired employee still was able to go forward with her Age Discrimination in Employment Act case in federal court. The judge, in denying summary judgment to the employer, pointed out that previous rulings from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals (which includes New Jersey) have found that age gaps as small as five years can sometimes qualify as “sufficiently younger” and satisfy the ADEA, Bloomberg BNA reported.

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pregnantIt is fairly well-known that an employer who undertakes an action harmful toward an employee simply because that employee is pregnant is liable for impermissible discrimination. However, what happens when the employer allegedly acts out of concern for the mother-to-be or her unborn child? The answer, in short, is that if an employer’s action is professionally adverse for the pregnant employee, regardless of the reasons, the action is discriminatory. A debt collection company employee and the revocation of her promotion recently served as a case in point.

The facts underlying this case are something that takes place unfortunately too often. Carolyn was a successful employee with a debt collection company in Hackensack. Things were probably exciting for Carolyn because she had just earned a promotion to collections manager with the company. On the personal side, she was also pregnant.

When the employee announced her pregnancy to her employer, things changed dramatically. The employer took back the promotion. The employer concluded that the woman’s pregnancy, which would last through the employer’s busy tax season, would be a problem. Additionally, the employer unilaterally decided that the stress and long hours involved in being a collections manager with their company were not conducive to the overall health of a pregnant woman. Instead, the employer told Carolyn to “focus on her health,” according to an HR Daily Advisor report.

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Transgender PrideA headline-making new federal court ruling regarding discrimination and the rights of transgender people in the workplace may not immediately affect workers in New Jersey, but it could play a role in the not-too-distant future. The ruling, which allowed a trans woman to pursue a disability discrimination case under the Americans with Disabilities Act, is not binding in New Jersey federal cases right now, but it could become so if the Third Circuit of Appeals reaches the issue and adopts the lower court’s conclusion.

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gavel and bookIf you’re familiar with federal age discrimination law, you’ll probably know that the “magic number,” so to speak, in terms of the group of age-protected employees is 40 years of age. So what happens when a group of workers, all of whom are over 50, pursue an Age Discrimination in Employment Act claim accusing their employer of discrimination specifically against 50+ employees? According to an important decision issued by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, the ADEA allows them to go forward with their disparate impact claim, even though they were only a sub-group of all age-protected employees.

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