Articles Posted in Racial Discrimination

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The law of discrimination and harassment has, over the years, stated several things. One is that harassment or discrimination by a supervisor or manager is often worse that similar conduct by peer employee. Additionally, many courts have also said that even just one use of the “N-word” packs sufficient harm in it to qualify as severe discrimination or harassment. When your case involves both of those elements, then chances are often high that, with representation from a knowledgeable New Jersey race discrimination lawyer, you will be able to overcome a defense motion for summary judgment and have your “day in court” before a jury.

A recent race discrimination case from North Jersey is an illustration of these recurring issues. The workers were five Black employees who worked for an air conditioning systems and service company.

The crux of the workers’ case arose in April 2018 when their supervisor took what he declared to be a “prank call” in his office during a break. The call, which the supervisor put on speakerphone, featured a voice who spoke in a “Donald Duck-like” voice while threatening violence and including the N-word in his comments. According to the lawsuit, the supervisor put the call on speakerphone “with no prompting” from the other people in his office at the time.

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Sometimes, race discrimination at work is “in your face,” like nooses or the use of the N-word. Often, though, it’s subtle. It may be little things, including seemingly facially neutral things, that unfairly hold back Black workers and/or push ahead those employees’ white coworkers. Whether the discrimination that adversely affected your employment was something overt or something less obvious on its face, it’s damaging and it may be the basis of a winning discrimination case. By contacting a knowledgeable New Jersey race discrimination lawyer, you can find out what options the legal system has for recouping compensation for the illegal harm you suffered.

T.W.’s race discrimination case was one of the latter kind. She was a Black woman who worked for the Office of the Attorney General in the Law and Public Safety Department, where she held the title of “personnel assistant.” As is common with many public employers, the department had multiple classes or grades of the same job title. In the department, personnel assistants ranged from “PA4,” the lowest rank, to “PA1,” the highest rank.

She began as a PA4 in 2004. By early 2018, she had risen to PA2 but, according to her lawsuit, the department had overlooked promoting her to PA2 for two years. Additionally, the department allegedly slowed her rise to PA1 by removing her subordinate and assigning that worker to a white employee. (That reassignment harmed T.W.’s career because it deprived her of the opportunity to accrue supervisory experience, which the employer required before promoting a personnel assistant to PA1.)

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Discrimination takes many different forms. Obviously, things like the “N-word” are extremely harmful and clearly racially discriminatory. However, the discriminatory conduct you endured does not necessarily have to be something as overt as that to be the basis for a successful discrimination case. If you think the mistreatment and harm you’ve endured at work was the result of your race, ethnicity, national origin, or other protected characteristic, then you should get in touch with an experienced New Jersey race discrimination lawyer to discuss your circumstance.

The religious and racial discrimination that M.T. allegedly endured illustrates this point well. The man, a Muslim born in India, worked as a software engineer for a temporary staffing agency. During that employment, M.T. worked on an assignment for a network of hospitals headquartered in North Jersey.

The engineer allegedly received many offensive comments and questions based on his religion. According to his complaint, these included “are you a jihadist” and “are you hiding a bomb?” The same coworker also allegedly told him to “shut up,” to “be quiet,” that “no one wants to know what you have to say,” that “nobody’s listening (to you),” and that coworkers don’t “understand your accent.”

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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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Advocates of a Congressional bill seeking to ban discrimination against natural and protective hairstyles suffered a setback recently when the measure failed to secure the votes it needed in the House of Representatives. Fortunately for workers in New Jersey, this kind of race discrimination is already expressly forbidden as a violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination so, if it happens to you here, you can secure a New Jersey race discrimination lawyer and take action under the LAD.

Measures to make discrimination against natural hairstyles a violation of federal anti-discrimination laws have emerged in each of the last two Congressional sessions. Two years ago, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker proposed the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or CROWN, Act of 2020.

The bill has not passed the senate and, recently, a similar measure suffered a defeat in the House of Representatives, as well. The house measure, H.R. 2116, was sponsored by New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman. Proponents sought to pass the bill on a “motion to suspend the rules,” so it needed a 2/3 vote. Because representatives voted in support by a margin of only 235-188, it failed.

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There are certain assumptions people often make about people who endure discrimination or harassment at work. One of those is that, if the employee is not fired, they will leave the job on their own. Reality is often more complicated. For a variety of reasons, you might want or need to keep that job despite what has happened in the past, and therefore stay on. By continuing to stay, you may remain vulnerable as a target for additional discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation. If that happens, the law allows you to go back to court and seek additional compensation. An experienced New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer can help you ascertain the best way to go about doing that.

Take, for example, P.W., a Black woman who worked for NJ Transit and who allegedly suffered both race discrimination and workplace retaliation. Back in early 2014, she and six other Black NJ Transit employees sued for racial discrimination. The nature of the alleged discrimination was multifaceted, including receiving lower pay than their white peers and unfair treatment as compared to white coworkers. The allegations also stated that a white supervisor used the N-word and placed a makeshift noose around a Black employee’s neck while commenting that that was “how things were handled in the South,” according to a nj.com report.

The plaintiffs in that lawsuit successfully worked out a settlement in that case. The settlement, reached in 2016, called for the workers to receive $3.65 million, nj.com reported.

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Race discrimination and color discrimination can come in many different forms. It may be based upon your race, or it may be based on your family and other close relationships (like having a biracial child or a partner of a different race), or it may be based on something else altogether. Any of these kinds of discrimination, if they have harmed you at work, can potentially be the basis for a successful lawsuit under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. If it’s happened to you, you should get in touch with an experienced New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer right away.

Most all of us are familiar with what the term “racism” means. What is less well-known, but can be just as injurious, is “colorism,” when one person or group discriminates based upon skin color as opposed to racial classification. Generally, it involves situations where people of darker skin are treated less favorably than people of lighter skin. (In other words, favoring a lighten-skinned Black person over a darker-skinned Black person, or favoring a lighter-skinned Latino person over a darker-skinned Latino.)

Other times, a person may suffer discrimination due to their darker skin, even if they are not a member of any sort of racial minority. Even if you’re not Black or Latino, it can still be illegal discrimination, as allegedly was the case with a police dispatcher in Monmouth County recently.

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Even here in 21st Century New Jersey, race discrimination in workplaces persists. One form of discrimination that crops up too often is grossly improper attempts at “humor.” Despite what some may say, lynching “jokes” simply are never funny and they have the potential to inflict massive harm upon Black workers in that workplace. Whether it was the N-word, a noose, a monkey image, a lynching joke, or some other discriminatory joke or comment, it’s not something you should have to put up with at work. Get in touch with an experienced New Jersey race discrimination lawyer to protect yourself and your rights.

The recent settlement of a race discrimination case from South Jersey is yet another example. As reported by nj.com, L.J., the plaintiff in the case, was a worker with the parks department of a township in Gloucester County. L.J. was also an African-American man who allegedly endured, during his employment with the parks department, a relentless onslaught of racially discriminatory comments at work.

According to the employee’s complaint, the comments included references to his propensity to steal (solely due to his race,) usage of the racially offensive “boy,” and statements that L.J. (as a Black man) looked “like someone in Philadelphia with his hood on [who] was looking for rape.” Additionally, the man’s coworkers allegedly made comments about lynching, making reference to placing a chain around L.J.’s neck and “letting him swing.”

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Many times, appeals court rulings reaffirm well-established concepts of law. Sometimes, though, these rulings may stake out new territory or expressly clarify something for the first time, making them particularly noteworthy developments in the law. For you, as a worker who may have been harmed by workplace discrimination, it is vital to have a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer on your side who is fully versed on all of the law’s latest advances and updates so that those new developments in the law can be put to full use on your behalf.

A recent case from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the federal appeals court whose rulings directly impact federal cases in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, represented one of those significant developments. In that late July ruling, the court announced for the first time that race-based “associational discrimination” was a viable form of discrimination under which a worker could pursue a Title VII discrimination case.

The employee, J.K., a captain at the county jail in Pittsburgh, had allegedly endured a considerable amount of racially offensive conduct, including comments with racial slurs like “monkey” and text messages with “racially offensive” content.

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In the world of trial practice, there is something that lawyers sometimes call a “swearing match” or “swearing contest.” It refers to a case that hinges heavily, if not almost entirely, on the jury’s credibility determination between two witnesses whose testimony was nearly diametrically opposite. This is a scenario where the right New Jersey discrimination lawyer can help immensely. The right legal team can come up with, and deploy, crucial techniques that poke holes in the credibility of your opponent, while also helping you make your own testimony even more relatable, believable, and persuasive.

The Appellate Division recently rendered a ruling in one of those cases. The race discrimination plaintiff, R.M., was a Black woman and a supervisor at a skilled nursing facility in Bound Brook. In the fall of 2016, the facility’s interim administrator allegedly told her that “I don’t want a black person walking around here in a suit as a VP. I want you in scrubs, flats, and a lab coat.”

Not long after this contentious alleged incident, the facility fired R.M., ostensibly for failing to alleviate the backlog of grievances, accident reports, and incident reports that existed at the facility. K.K., a white woman, took over handling R.M.’s duties at the facility.

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