Articles Posted in Other Discrimination

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Like many personal relationships, the best attorney-clients relationships are based on trust and communication. If you’re not being honest with your attorney or not communicating with your attorney, it could lead to problems that will harm your case. That’s why it is important to recognize that your employment discrimination or harassment case requires, not just a skilled New Jersey employment attorney, but the right attorney with whom you can forge a strong relationship in order to get the best outcome for you.

A recent case from Union County is an unfortunate example. L.A., the employee, was a worker at a health insurance entity’s office. In 2017, she sued her employer for discrimination and sexual harassment. Attorneys for the employer and employee discussed possibly settling the case in late 2018, with employer initially offering $25,000. L.A.’s position started at $95,000 but she eventually lowered that to $90,000.

L.A. and her legal team communicated on Oct. 31. As the employer increased its offers, L.A.’s legal team reached out on Nov.2, Nov. 3, Nov. 4 and Nov. 5, with each message expressing an increasing degree of urgency that the client contact the law office immediately. L.A. didn’t respond to any of those November messages, and that created a problem, as the judge was on the verge of entering a ruling.

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From time to time, both federal and New Jersey anti-discrimination laws frequently undergo changes – some minor but some major – so, if you believe you’ve been harmed by discrimination or harassment at your job, be sure you have a knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorney on your side who’s up to date on all the changes to the law, and the impacts those can have. For example, Title VII, the federal law that bans many forms of workplace discrimination, originally only protected people from discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion or national origin. Over the decades, Congress added protections against age, pregnancy and disability discrimination. Now, U.S. Senator Cory Booker has proposed a new expansion, which would make discrimination against family caregivers (sometimes also known as family responsibilities discrimination) a violation of federal law.

Sen. Booker’s proposal, which is entitled the “Protecting Family Caregivers from Discrimination Act,” would make family caregiver status a protected class much like race, sex, religion, national origin, disability and age. Employers, under the proposed act, would be barred from firing, demoting, refusing to hire or otherwise taking adverse employment action against a person based on her/his status as a caregiver for family members, according to the senator’s web page. The bill would also, similar to the anti-discrimination and harassment protections afforded to those other groups, prohibit retaliation against a worker who seeks to enforce her/his rights under the expanded law.

Sen. Booker’s proposal is not the first of its kind. In 2016, New York City enacted a law that banned family caregiver discrimination in the city’s workplaces.

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The current pandemic has brought us into unprecedented times and extreme challenges, including economically. Unprecedented times and money troubles often have the potential to stoke fear and division, and fear and division can often lead to discrimination. To fend off that risk, the State of New Jersey has passed new laws to protect workers from illegal workplace discrimination in this time of COVID-19. If you think you’ve been the recipient of illegal mistreatment at your job, be sure to reach to an experienced New Jersey employment attorney to find out more about your options.

One of the newest laws designed to curb discrimination and harassment is AB 3848, which Governor Murphy signed into law on March 20. That law, which took effect immediately upon the governor’s signature, limits what an employer can do to an employee who takes COVID-19-related leave from work. Specifically, the new law forbids employers from firing or refusing to reinstate employees that took leave at the recommendation of their health providers because they had (or potentially had) COVID-19.

Of course, as is true of many types of employment law disputes, one of the big keys to having a winning case is having followed all of the mandatory procedural steps and having documented proof that you did so. For example, say you experienced symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and became concerned about your health and the health of those around you. You went to a licensed New Jersey health professional and he/she recommended that you miss work for a period of time.

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Last month, the New York City Commission on Human Rights issued a new “legal enforcement guidance” document that potentially impacted hundreds of thousands of workers in that city. In the new document, the commission provided new details on forms of conduct that constitute impermissible discrimination and/or harassment.

Even though the city’s new guidance isn’t enforceable in New Jersey, and even though citizenship status isn’t a protected class under the Law Against Discrimination, that does not mean that undocumented workers who suffer harassment and/or discrimination on the job due to their immigration status are without recourse here. There are still other potential options, both under state law and federal law, so you should be sure to reach out to an experienced New Jersey employment attorney about your circumstance right away.

This new guidance didn’t expand the protections of the city’s anti-discrimination and harassment laws – those laws already barred discrimination and/or harassment based on immigration status and national origin. Rather, the new guidance clarified what may constitute immigration status or national original discrimination.

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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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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 well-worn phrase opines that it is “not what you say but how you say it.” Believe it or not, your disability discrimination case may be somewhat like that. Sometimes, the key to success is not proving that you were harmed based upon a condition you had, but instead lies with connecting that condition (when it is not itself a recognized disability) with something else that is a recognized disability.

For example, obesity by itself isn’t a recognized disability in New Jersey. However, if you prove that your obesity is actually a symptom of some other physical health or mental health disability, then your disability discrimination case may go from hopeless to a potential success. In other words, there are often more options out there for you than you might have thought. Explore those options by contacting a knowledgeable New Jersey discrimination attorney about your situation right away.

The case of one New Jersey bus driver was an unfortunate example of the importance of this connection. C.D. had worked for the same employer as a bus driver from 2005 to 2015. During that time, he passed all his required physical exams and won several awards for his work. During that decade, the driver weighed between 500 and 600 pounds. In 2015, the employer’s physician did not give C.D. a “pass” on his physical exam. He remained out of work for 10 months before he filed a complaint against the employer.

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You might think that a lawsuit related to the trade-in of a used car would have nothing to do with New Jersey discrimination law, but one recent case of that type offers some potentially useful information. There may be many different tools in the tool belt of a litigation attorney, and not all of them may come directly from court opinions in discrimination cases. The key is finding an experienced New Jersey discrimination attorney who knows how to use all of those legal tools for maximum effect for you.

The plaintiff in the vehicle case was a man who had traded in his used vehicle and leased a new one. As part of the transaction, a $75 fee was added that allegedly was never disclosed. This led the man to sue for numerous consumer protection violations. The defendant in that case asked the court to compel arbitration. As part of the pile of paperwork that the consumer had signed during the trade-in process, he had executed an arbitration agreement. The consumer contended that the arbitration agreement was invalid.

The Appellate Division court sided with the consumer. The court explained that any arbitration agreement, like any contract, must be made up of terms that are clear and unambiguous. If an arbitration agreement contains ambiguity or is vague, then that may allow the party seeking to avoid arbitration to do so.

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If you’ve ever been around someone fairly knowledgeable about taxes, you might have overheard them say, when hearing of a lottery winner’s take or a very successful game-show contestant’s haul, “Well, that amount isn’t really what they will take home. The tax hit on that is quite significant.” That’s true. What’s also true is that this also happens to people who succeed in civil litigation matters. The taxing authorities are entitled to their “cut” of your civil judgment. That’s what makes a recent decision by a federal judge in North Jersey so significant. The judge took taxes into account in fashioning the damages award in a discrimination case. If you’ve been a victim of workplace discrimination, it is important to make sure you are doing everything possible to get everything you deserve, so protect yourself by retaining knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination counsel to handle your case.The recent case, reported by nj.com, involved several police sergeants working for the Jersey City Police. One of the sergeants alleged that her political affiliation and her “expression about a matter of public concern” played a major role in denying her a promotion. Based on those alleged denials, the sergeants sued the City of Jersey City for violating the Law Against Discrimination. The sergeant’s politics and her speaking out about matters of public concern were protected activities under the statute, so any adverse employment action that was a result of those activities was illegal discrimination under the law, according to the lawsuit.

The jury decided that the city had engaged in illegal discrimination based upon political affiliation. For each of the sergeants, the jury calculated their economic damages as the present value calculation of the pension differential created by the lower rank. For the lead plaintiff, that meant an award of $276,000 in economic damages. As the judge noted, though, there was a problem. The employees had received lump-sum awards and would be required to pay taxes on those lump sums in one year, as opposed to “paying taxes on smaller amounts spread across past and future years.” This obligation to pay taxes on the lump sum in one year created “adverse tax consequences” for the employees.

These adverse consequences weren’t fair to the employees. The judge decided that the employees were entitled to something called a “molded verdict.” This molded verdict meant the amount of damages each employee would receive would be adjusted upward to offset the tax “hit” that each sergeant would receive when it came time for her or him to pay state and federal income taxes.

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Tax laws can be complicated in some areas. There may be various reasons why you owe taxes on a particular sum, even though that might seem counter-intuitive or just plain wrong. For example, what about attorneys’ fees and court costs in a successful workplace discrimination lawsuit? Currently, you could owe taxes on sums even though that money went to someone else. However, if a group of New Jersey legislators are successful, that will change. Senate Bill 784 would change the tax laws and end the double-taxation of attorneys’ fees in your employment discrimination case. Whether or not this new bill becomes law, you should not let the tax laws discourage you from seeking to protect your rights if you’ve suffered from discrimination at work. Contact a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination attorney to discuss which options are available to you.

Imagine it:  you were harmed professionally due to workplace discrimination. You retained skilled counsel to represent you. You sued in court under the Law Against Discrimination, and you won. The trial court awarded you compensation for your damages. Your attorney, having represented you diligently and successfully, was owed for the work he or she provided, and you happily paid. However, when tax time comes around, you discover that you owe taxes for an amount that never went to you but instead went to your attorney. (FYI, not only did you pay taxes on that amount, but your attorney did as well.)

SB 784, sponsored by three Republicans and one Democrat, would change that. The federal government has already taken action to fix this problem in federal litigation. In 2004, President Bush signed into law the Civil Rights Tax Relief Act, a bill that gave litigants a tax deduction that wiped out the tax obligations they previously owed. Under the modified federal law, attorneys’ fees in cases like employment discrimination actions are subject only to single taxation, which is paid by the attorney who actually received that money.

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