Articles Posted in Age Discrimination

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In April 2022, the percentage of workers who worked remotely was at its lowest in two years but, even with these declines, fully 1 in 13 workers (7.7%) remains a remote employee. With remote work comes the question of what to do if you, as a remote worker, experience discrimination or sexual harassment. Who should you sue? Where should you sue? For answers to these and other vital questions, look to an experienced New Jersey workplace discrimination lawyer for the answers you need.

A recent disability discrimination case addressing this issue involved a New Jersey woman who took a job with a New York City investment bank in 2020. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she began her job working remotely from her home. Shocked by the extremely long hours she was working, the employee notified Human Resources that she had an anxiety and mood disorder that required regular sleep. Human Resources and a senior partner worked out an accommodation, and the employee was made exempt from working more than 15 hours on any one day.

Just a few weeks later, the employer fired the woman, allegedly asserting that, among the job’s essential requirements, was “working many 120-hour weeks,” and that her disability rendered her incapable of satisfying the essential duties of the job.

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When you need to pursue a discrimination lawsuit in New Jersey, your case needs several things, not the least of which is something called an “adverse employment action.” This is just one of many essential components your case needs to succeed. To make sure you have everything necessary for a positive outcome, be sure that, before you start, you’ve retained a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer.

Any of a range of actions can be adverse employment actions. It is fairly cut-and-dried that things like terminations, demotions, suspensions without pay, disciplinary “write-ups” or actions, reductions of pay or hours, or negative performance reviews are adverse.

As the recent age and disability discrimination case of one New Jersey woman shows, the array of actions that can qualify as adverse under employment law is not limited only to those listed above.

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A few years ago, a major insurance company ran an advertising campaign in which they counseled consumers to use them because of their vast knowledge borne out of their extensive experience. “We know a thing a or two because we’ve seen a thing or two,” the famous actor serving as a spokesperson helpfully explained. Selecting a New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer can involve some distinctly similar concepts.

In both situations, to best protect yourself, you need a well-seasoned professional who will know how to handle your circumstance, no matter how strange, novel, or unique, because they can call upon their vast catalog of first-hand experiences dealing with identical or similar situations successfully.

Having a knowledgeable and experienced discrimination attorney is never more important than when your case presents some unusual complexity. Take, for example, the federal discrimination case of T.E., an executive with a major nuclear power business who was 67 years old when he was fired at the end of May 2018.

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Back in 1994, a popular singer named Aaliyah released a music album entitled “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number.” The title was a subtle reference to the singer’s youth, as she was only 15. Today, lots of people embracing this same mindset come from the opposite side of the age spectrum. These older individuals recognize that their age does not define them, and they seek employment where they are judged by the merits of their work, not solely by “that number.” With the passage of a new law, older workers age 70+ now have more protections than even against age discrimination in this state. If you think you’ve been denied a promotion, denied employment, or otherwise harmed because of your age, get in touch with an experienced New Jersey age discrimination lawyer to discuss your legal options.

Here in New Jersey, the average life expectancy is 80.7 years, making the Garden State the ninth highest-ranking state in that category. In certain areas of North Jersey, it’s higher still, with some Bergen County communities along the Hudson River averaging nearly 87 years!

The point is, people are living longer… and they are also working longer. That means that many people in their 70s find themselves continuing to pursue their careers instead of retiring. For a long time, however, they faced a huge obstacle in the form of age discrimination that was often completely legal in this state. With a new bill (Assembly Bill 681) signed into law by the governor earlier this month, much of that has now changed.

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In contract law, experienced attorneys know that the key to success (or potentially to defeat) can often lie in the so-called “fine print,” which is why it is well worth going over every detail with great care. That is true, not just in business and commercial contracts, but in most binding agreements generally, including a settlement agreement reached as part of your employment law case. A knowledgeable New Jersey employment lawyer can help you to “sweat the small stuff” and get the settlement agreement that works best for you.

Generally speaking, the most optimal settlement agreement you can reach, if you are an employee, is one that gets you a resolution, gets you compensated, and does so while surrendering as few of your legal rights and options as possible.

An age discrimination case recently before the Appellate Division court shows just how helpful the right agreement can be. In that case, K.R. was a 30-plus-year veteran of a local police department in Union County when, in 2015, two others officers misrepresented facts to a prosecuting attorney to obtain a search warrant in a suspected drunk driving case. K.R. was not one of the officers involved in the misconduct, but one of the ones who was involved told him about the misconduct, and K.R. did not inform the prosecuting attorney’s office, even though he said he would.

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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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The scenario is probably all too familiar for some workers. You work hard to break into your chosen field and then to build a successful career. Then, after having done that, you have the rug pulled from beneath you when your employer decides to replace you with someone younger. Maybe the employer did it because of the replacement’s more youthful appearance or because the replacement was cheaper. Either way, you may have been the victim of impermissible age discrimination and may be able to take action through the courts. Don’t let time run out on you; be sure to contact an experienced New Jersey age discrimination attorney without delay to discuss your legal options.

As noted above, there may be many underlying reasons for age discrimination. Sometimes it is financial. Other times, especially for women in the public eye, the reason may be simply related to physical appearance and the perceived greater business benefit from putting a younger female face before the public.

Two New Jersey women were involved in a high-profile lawsuit and settlement, reported by the New York Times, that implicated the latter set of issues.

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With coronavirus numbers surging, Gov. Phil Murphy has stated that a new statewide lockdown is “on the table,” according to news reports. Whether or not the state enters a new lockdown, the state’s skyrocketing COVID-19 cases will likely lead to more and more employers considering remote work for their employees. That, in turn, will likely mean more and more use of technology platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. However, as we’ve seen from recent headlines and news stories, this type of work environment presents its own risks when it comes to discrimination and sexual harassment. If you’ve suffered discrimination or harassment in a virtual meeting, don’t wait… reach out to an experienced New Jersey workplace discrimination attorney today to discuss your legal options.

The use of new technology like Zoom has proven to be fertile ground for both embarrassing blunders and offensive misconduct. These incidents have included a woman who inadvertently broadcast herself on the toilet during a Zoom call; a Brazilian government worker accidentally captured having sex during a Zoom call, and a prominent TV legal analyst who accidentally broadcast his act of self-gratification during an election simulation call with colleagues from the New Yorker.

Some of these stories may yield laughs from readers, but this actually points to a serious issue. Sexual harassment can occur in many ways and isn’t limited to face-to-face encounters. Being involuntarily exposed to unwanted comments, jokes, or material of a sexual nature can also be a form of sexual harassment, even when it happens over Zoom.

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In some ways, you can think of your discrimination or harassment lawsuit like a hurdles race in track and field. Your desired goal lies at the finish line, but you must successfully clear each of the numerous hurdles that stand between you and the finish line if you are to arrive at the finish line with the result you want. In your lawsuit, one of the most important hurdles is the “motion for summary judgment.” It is a hurdle you must clear to get to trial and getting past this hurdle may open several new doors for you. As you seek to defeat your employer’s motion for summary judgment, be sure you are armed with legal representation from a skilled and experienced New Jersey employment attorney.

A.F. was a worker involved in one of those kinds of cases. She was a 62-year-old woman working as the director of security for a casino. After more than three decades at the casino, the director began reporting to a new supervisor. That supervisor allegedly indicated to A.F. that he desired to “weed out” all of the “fat and old female security officers.” The supervisor indicated his preference to “get back to youth[ful] enforcement people” and to “get rid of these girls.”

Eventually, the supervisor began making A.F. meet with him more often, moved her office to the operations floor of the casino and moved the director’s assigned parking spot (which she’d maintained for 20 years) to a different lot several blocks away. Additionally, the supervisor allegedly “berated” women in front of A.F. “constantly,” took away her ability to hire workers and threatened to eliminate the director’s assistant’s job.

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