Articles Posted in Sex / Marital Status Discrimination

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arbitrationArbitration agreements can be a common part of workplace life. As with any potentially legally binding contractual agreement, it is extremely important to understand the exact legal ramifications of what you’re signing before you do anything. It is also important to understand exactly when your employer can claim that you’ve assented to the arbitration agreement by doing nothing. When it comes to these and other legal issues that can impact you as a worker, you should be sure you have a skilled New Jersey employment attorney to provide you the advice and advocacy you need.

One case originating in Union County provided some useful information on arbitration agreements, as well as on what does (or doesn’t) qualify as a valid passive assent to an agreement. The case followed a fact pattern that is probably similar to what occurs at many workplaces. The employer decides to establish an optional arbitration agreement. The employer sends the affected employees an email containing the policy. The email explains that the policy is not mandatory and includes instructions for opting out of the arbitration agreement. The email also includes a requirement that the employee acknowledge having reviewed the agreement.

In the summer of 2017, the assistant store manager at a wireless employer’s Union store filed a lawsuit alleging that the employer had engaged in racial and gender discrimination. The employer then asked the trial court to order the case to arbitration. The employer asserted that it was entitled to an order compelling arbitration because the manager had never completed the “opt out” requirements. According to the employer, it had asked the manager to acknowledge reviewing the agreement. Allegedly, the manager initially did nothing, but eventually acknowledged reviewing the agreement. She allegedly took no further action.

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sexual harassmentAll workers in New Jersey have the right, and should expect, to be able to pursue their jobs and earn a living without enduring sexual harassment or discrimination on the job. Unfortunately, that isn’t always reality. When workplace discrimination or harassment does occur, you may have various legal options available to you. Depending on the specific facts of your situation, you may be entitled to sue in state court, in federal court or, sometimes, sue in both courts. Whether your circumstances permit you to pursue one or more legal actions to obtain the compensation you deserve, a skilled New Jersey discrimination attorney can help you assess all of the legal techniques available to you and give you the advice you need.

The case of a New Jersey municipal employee, S.P., that was reported by nj.com, was one which involved both state and federal legal action. S.P. allegedly had to endure some highly inappropriate behavior related to her work. S.P. purportedly was on the receiving end of quid-pro-quo sexual harassment and endured a hostile work environment inflicted by her employer’s director of municipal services and a health official. In addition, according to an earlier nj.com report, she was allegedly on the receiving end of inappropriate “sexting” messages from her mayor. According to the employee, the mayor agreed to settle the federal lawsuit if S.P. agreed to “commit to involving herself romantically” with the mayor.

Eventually, S.P. was terminated, which she alleged was the result of sex discrimination and retaliation.

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employee rightsIf you’ve been the victim of sex discrimination at work, you have certain rights and certain options for seeking damages to compensate you for the harm you suffered. Sometimes, though, achieving success can involve more than just accumulating evidence, presenting a case and obtaining a verdict in your favor. You may have to defend that outcome in additional battles like a defense request for a judgment as a matter of law, or an appeal. To make sure you are ready to handle whatever direction your case takes, secure strong representation from a skilled New Jersey discrimination attorney.

The federal case of a female police officer from near Newark was an example of just how many hurdles you may have clear to obtain, and then keep, your discrimination judgment. M.C. was an employee of the department for many years. The department granted health benefits to retired employees who had 25 years of service. When M.C. retired, the department determined that she had only 24 years and five months of service time. The department demanded that she work seven more months or else face not getting her health benefits.

M.C. sued for sex discrimination. In a case of sex discrimination, one way that the allegedly victimized employee can show that illegal discrimination took place is by proving that the employer treated a similarly situated employee outside her protected class in a more favorable manner than she was treated. M.C. had proof that a male employee had, like M.C., been denied originally benefits on the basis that he had just slightly less than 25 years of time on the job. Allegedly, high ranking employees stepped in, the male employee was given credit for time spent with other employers, and the adjusted calculation gave him more than 25 years’ time.

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Legal News GavelNew Jersey law gives religious employers very broad latitude in the employment decisions they make. That broad latitude is required by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Based on those protections, you might think if you’ve been fired from a job at a religious place of employment that you have no recourse, right? Not necessarily. There are many circumstances where a religious employer may still run afoul of anti-discrimination laws and that violation may still entitle the discriminated employee to receive compensation. A knowledgeable New Jersey discrimination attorney can advise you on how best to pursue your case against a religious employer.

One recent example of this scenario was the Appellate Division ruling in the case of V.C., a teacher at a North Jersey Catholic school. The case, which received coverage from nj.com, involved a lay teacher who instructed toddlers. In January 2014, the teacher informed her principal that she was pregnant. At the time, the teacher was engaged but not yet married. Two weeks after the principal learned about the teacher’s pregnancy, the school fired the teacher.

V.C. sued for sex discrimination, but the trial court ruled against her and threw out her case.

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Legal News GavelIn recent days, the gender pay gap has been in the headlines with increasing frequency. One of the most nefarious ways to perpetrate gender discrimination, while still maintaining the appearance of objectivity, is to base an employee’s earnings on what she made in her previous jobs. That practice is soon to be illegal in New Jersey. Earlier this year, Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order banning the practice of basing pay on salary history in all state government jobs. Now, the governor has indicated his intent to sign a bill that goes beyond just addressing gender pay equity issues and will stand as one of the most powerful pay equity laws anywhere, protecting workers within a multitude of protected groups, according to an nj.com report.

The issue of pay equity has been an important one to the New Jersey legislature for some time. Both houses had passed previous bills requiring pay equity, but the previous governor vetoed those bills. This session, the legislature passed Senate Bill 104, which the governor indicated on Equal Pay Day that he would sign in late April, nj.com reported.

One of the bill’s sponsors stated in the nj.com report that, once SB104 becomes law, New Jersey will have “the most rigorous protections against pay discrimination.” This pending New Jersey employment discrimination law makes it an illegal employment practice under the Law Against Discrimination to provide a worker who is a member of a protected class with lower pay or lesser benefits when that worker is performing work that is commensurate with higher-paid employees who are not members of any protected classes.

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Legal News GavelEffective Oct. 31, 2017, a new New York City law went into effect that declared inquiries into a prospective employee’s salary history to be a discriminatory practice. Earlier this year, New Jersey took an important first step toward providing similar protections to Garden State employees. The state’s new governor signed an executive order that bans the practice of salary history inquiries with regard to all hiring of public employees. The new order, which the new governor signed mere hours after his inauguration and which went into effect on Feb. 1, is intended to reduce the gender wage gap, nj.com reported. Whether it is illegal questions within a job interview or any other prohibited practice, if you think that you have been a victim of discrimination in the workplace, it is important to contact a knowledgeable New Jersey sex discrimination attorney right away.

The New York City law bans employers from asking about a prospective employee’s current and past earnings, and it goes further. The law says that, if the employer already has knowledge of the prospective employee’s current or past salary, it is forbidden from using that information in determining the compensation it will provide to that employee. The law also prohibits a prospective employer from asking a candidate’s current or previous employers salary history questions and bans searching publicly available records for that information.

The New Jersey executive order protecting public employees similarly bars employers from asking potential employees about their current or past salaries and also prohibits taking steps to investigate how much the potential employee makes or made in the past.

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Legal News GavelA recent report from the Trentonian discussed a female corrections officer’s successful sex discrimination case. The jury in the case returned a verdict that awarded the employee just under $317,000 in damages. The report also noted that the woman, who was white, has a second discrimination lawsuit – this one for race discrimination – still pending. The officer’s discrimination-based legal actions highlight several useful bits of knowledge regarding who can pursue discrimination claims and whether or not you can bring multiple discrimination actions. Whether your case involves one basis for claiming illegal workplace discrimination or several, it pays to have an experienced New Jersey sex discrimination attorney on your side.

The employee, Jennifer, was a senior corrections officer at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. According to the officer, her supervisor, Zsuzsanna, treated her less favorably than Jennifer’s male peers, according to the Trentonian report. It is important to note that, in order to have a successful discrimination case, you do not have to prove that you and the person who committed the discrimination were of different groups. In other words, a female employee can have a winning case of sex discrimination even if the supervisor who is doing the discriminating is also a woman. The female employee only needs to prove that she was treated less favorably than her male counterparts.

For Jennifer, the alleged discrimination included verbal insults (“idiot”) and re-assignment to a less desirable position (while her old position was filled by a man). At one point, Jennifer was allegedly ordered to “haul multiple food-cart loads and deliver boxes of food that weighed 300 to 400 pounds” by herself, a job usually carried out by mailroom workers. This solo assignment, Jennifer asserted, represented a clear signal to others that Jennifer was being punished by upper management. After completing this assignment, the officer developed a stress fracture in her back.

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Legal News GavelA jury in a federal court in New Jersey recently decided that a woman, who was a township’s first female police officer and who did receive full health benefits upon retirement, won her federal case asserting that her employer engaged in sex discrimination. Having found the employer liable for discrimination, the jury then awarded the officer $355,000 in damages to compensate for past and future health insurance expenses, the Union News Daily reported.

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Legal News GavelNew Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination is one of the more robust anti-discrimination laws in the country. New Jersey law says that people shouldn’t suffer harm, on the job and in certain other settings, as a result of “invidious stereotypes” about their race, sex, national origin, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or marital status. A ruling from last year handed down by the New Jersey Supreme Court sided with an employer because his employer did exactly what the law prohibits – engaged in harmful stereotyping. The employer terminated the employee, who was having an extramarital affair and getting divorced, since it feared the divorce would be “ugly.” That, the high court concluded, should have allowed the employee to pursue a claim of marital status discrimination.

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