Articles Posted in Disability Discrimination

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Certain instances of workplace discrimination are fairly clear: a Black person who endures a daily deluge of racial epithets, a Muslim employee who hears a seemingly endless line of jihadi, terrorist, and bombing jokes, or an older worker who endures a regular torrent of “OK Boomer” comments. Other times, it’s not so obvious. In either type of situation, you may have a viable claim for a hostile work environment. Also in either circumstance, but especially in the latter, it pays to retain a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer, who can help you make the most of your facts and demonstrate how they satisfy each of the elements of the law.

I.G. was someone whose alleged hostile work environment fell into the latter category. According to his complaint, he experienced a bout of vertigo in 2020, and as a result, the employer forced him to take a week of medical leave from his plant supervisor job.

After he returned, C.C., his supervisor, allegedly was “very cold and negative.” According to the lawsuit, the supervisor began making negative age-related comments about I.G. to other workers, including “it’s time for [I.G.] to retire.”

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There might be various reasons why you’d prefer to litigate your New Jersey discrimination case in a state Superior Court as opposed to a federal District Court. (You may have considered issues of speed, cost, the kind of jury that’ll hear your case, or other factors.) Whatever the reason, you and your knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer undoubtedly contemplated the issue at great length, so you want to do everything possible to ensure that your case eventually proceeds in the court you prefer.

There may be various ways you can shield your state court case from potential removal to federal court. An experienced attorney can help you with pleading your discrimination case in a way that avoids unnecessary exposure to removal.

One of those potential exposures is something the law calls “diversity jurisdiction,” as a recent disability discrimination case from Somerset County illustrates.

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Businesses are always on the lookout for ways to be more efficient. “Work smarter, not harder,” the saying goes. That’s also true in hiring. To that end, many employers have begun using artificial intelligence in their hiring processes. While this might seem like an ideal solution both in terms of increasing efficiency and eliminating biases that result from the introduction of the human element, the reality is far murkier. Many forms of AI are far from perfect and their flaws make them far from unbiased. Sometimes those biases result in violations of anti-discrimination laws. If you think you’ve encountered that kind of hiring bias and been denied employment because of it, you should get in touch with a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer to discuss your situation.

Most recently, the federal government put out the call to employers to beware when using algorithms and AI in their hiring processes. The U.S. Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission put out a guidance document on May 12 where they laid out ways that these automated systems can unfairly disqualify some people with disabilities.

For example, some employers use automated personality tests or other cognitive screening exams to assess particular “personality, cognitive, or neurocognitive traits.” The problem with these exams is that they potentially can cull people with “cognitive, intellectual, or mental health-related disabilities,” even though those people met the qualifications that the test was supposed to be analyzing and should not have been eliminated from consideration.

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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 get hurt on the job and become disabled (either temporarily or permanently) as a result, your employer may fear the consequences… on their bottom line. Many of those same (improper) considerations can take place when you step up and act as a whistleblower. If your employer has taken adverse action against you (such as firing you, demoting you, cutting your hours, etc.) because of the disabling injury you suffered or because you engaged in whistleblowing, then your employer very possibly has violated the law. Don’t assume there’s nothing you can do. Instead, fight back by consulting with an experienced New Jersey workplace retaliation lawyer and finding out more about the legal options that exist for you.

Sometimes, an employer can make a good-faith mistake regarding a less-than-clear issue of how far their legal obligations under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination do (or don’t) extend. (That doesn’t mean that they aren’t culpable for the harm they caused you, as an unintentional violation is still a violation all the same. A more egregious violation may, however, open an employer up to greater liability.)

A lot of times, though, the alleged missteps an employer makes are more obvious. I.F.’s retaliation case against a New Jersey county government fell more into the latter category than the former.

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One byproduct of the opioid epidemic is the number of people who are in treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) and who are also employed or seeking employment in this state. For that group of people, the laws that prohibit disability discrimination offer certain substantial protections, which means that, if you’ve been denied employment or suffered workplace punishment because of your treatment, you may be able, with the help of a knowledgeable New Jersey disability discrimination lawyer, to win a lawsuit under federal and/or state anti-discrimination laws.

The U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division reaffirmed and highlighted this aspect of disability discrimination law recently. The division’s new guidance document, entitled “The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Opioid Crisis: Combating Discrimination Against People in Treatment or Recovery,” highlight various ways that employers may run afoul of laws barring disability discrimination, and what those employees can do about it.

The guidance document reaffirmed that OUD is considered to be people with a disability under federal law. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), therefore, bars discrimination against most people with OUD who are not currently using. That includes people taking drugs (like methadone) that a doctor prescribed for them as part of their OUD treatment.

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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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As we enter our third year of living with COVID-19, scientists are coming to learn more and more about the virus and its impacts. One critical thing they’ve discovered is that the virus does not harm all of those infected equally. Some may die fair quickly, some may be entirely asymptomatic and some may have non-lethal but long-lasting damaging effects. Recent guidance produced by the courts and by regulatory authorities has come to the conclusion that COVID may qualify as a “disability” under federal and state employment law and entitle those with COVID to workplace accommodations. If you think your employer has failed to make reasonable efforts to accommodate your long-lasting COVID symptoms, then your employer may be in violation of the law and you should get in touch with a knowledgeable New Jersey disability discrimination lawyer right away.

One of the more important medical breakthroughs has come with the discovery that, for some, COVID-19 is something that does not simply go away fairly quickly or else become critical. For those, there is something called “long COVID,” “long-haul COVID” or “chronic COVID.” According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, long COVID refers to cases where “where individuals experience new, returning, or ongoing health problems four or more weeks after being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.”

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recognized that long COVID potentially can qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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If you’ve encountered disability discrimination in your job, you’ve likely suffered significant harm. You may have lost earnings; you may have lost your job entirely. You’ve suffered enough; you don’t need to suffer the loss of your discrimination lawsuit before it even gets off the ground because you didn’t have the tools you needed for success. Before you start, make sure have all the resources you need, including an experienced New Jersey disability discrimination lawyer.

The reasons that the right legal representation is so important are many. On TV shows, during the pretrial process, you see attorneys digging through stacks of documents or interviewing potential witnesses. You don’t see all that goes into, say, making a proper demand for the production of documents or correctly noticing a deposition.

Many procedural details potentially can trip up your case. Take, for example, Y.R., an office manager at a dermatology practice. The manager allegedly had peptic ulcers. The employer allegedly failed to accommodate the manager’s disabilities that stemmed from those ulcers. Eventually, in early 2018, the employer fired the manager after nearly 15 years on the job, so Y.R. sued for disability discrimination.

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You can think of your successful discrimination or sexual harassment case like one of those domino “chain reaction” exercises. To arrive at a successful domino effect conclusion, every element of the chain must be properly in place and must do its job. If any one of them fails, the whole thing fails. One of the many ways that the right New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer will help you is by ensuring that you have the proof you need in each of the required elements so that each of your “dominos” will be more than ready to do its job and get you to a successful case result.

The disability discrimination case of one retail worker from North Jersey makes for a very good example of this. F.K., a woman with a hearing impairment and a speech impediment, worked at a clothing store and “lifestyle retailer” in the Menlo Park Mall in Edison.

Eight months after F.K. started, a new manager came to the store. Things allegedly got off to a rocky start. The new manager verbally reprimanded for various minor infractions. There was one text message exchange about an alleged incident involving F.K. reading a book while “on the clock.” However, no one ever “wrote up” F.K. and all managers confirmed that F.K.’s work was “generally satisfactory.”

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