Articles Posted in Sex / Marital Status Discrimination

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Part of what makes certain types of harassment and discrimination, such as quid pro quo sexual harassment, so insidious is that they often leave the victim with the sense that she is powerless, and that her harasser has all the power. That is doubly true if the harasser is, in fact, a politically or professionally powerful person. Don’t fall into that trap of hopelessness. If you’ve experienced quid pro quo sexual harassment, you are entitled to sue, and you may be entitled to receive significant compensation. Reach out to a skilled New Jersey sexual harassment attorney without fear and without delay to find out what options exist for you.

It’s one thing (and an undoubtedly agonizing thing) when your sexual harasser is some low-level supervisor. Imagine how much more stressful it may be when your harasser is a powerful person like a judge! That was the situation facing C.S., a probation officer, in her discrimination and harassment case.

The alleged harasser was the top trial court judge in the county where C.S. lived. They met at a holiday party and exchanged telephone numbers. According to C.S.’s court papers, she visited the judge’s chambers after hours and, although she didn’t want to, she gave into the judge’s insistence to have sex with him. The judge allegedly called the pair’s sexual interaction a “business relationship.”

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As all of America has come to re-assess the way in which minorities and other marginalized people are treated, many have concluded that it is not enough merely to refrain from engaging in harmful biased behavior; one must also be an active participant in stamping out such bigotry. However, what about at your workplace? If a coworker or supervisor is using offensive language that dehumanizes a group, what are your options? Are your options fewer if you’re not a member of that group? Fortunately, whether you are a member of the targeted group or are just an ally, you have some clear rights in New Jersey, so be sure to reach out to an experienced New Jersey employment attorney right away if you are punished at work for speaking up.

Let’s use an example from current events, reported by the New York Times, as a starting point. Very recently, an announcer for a Major League Baseball team, during a moment that was supposed to be off-air but was inadvertently broadcast, used an offensive anti-gay slur. He was later suspended by the TV network that employed him. Even though the slur may have occurred in a moment the announcer believed was off-air, it was undeniably said at the announcer’s workplace while he was “on the job,” and was clearly audible by fellow broadcasters and members of the network’s broadcast production team.

Lots of New Jersey workers can probably relate to having to put up with supervisors or coworkers who regularly shower the workplace with racist, anti-LGBT, anti-woman or other slurs and epithets. But do you really have to “put up with it”?

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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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Everyone has an idea of what they think gender discrimination looks like. The stereotype many picture involves a female employee, probably working in a job with relatively low prominence (and low income,) being harassed by a supervisor or more senior person who is male. The reality is that gender discrimination is much broader than just this stereotype, and it’s very important to keep that reality in mind. Just because your supervisor is the same gender as you, or just because you are in a job of high authority, power or influence, that doesn’t mean that you cannot be victimized by gender discrimination and it doesn’t mean you can’t win a gender discrimination lawsuit in the federal or New Jersey courts. Regardless of your job title or your gender, if you’ve suffered gender discrimination, you owe it to yourself to consult with a knowledgeable New Jersey gender discrimination attorney to learn more about your options.

The plaintiff in a recent gender discrimination case is a very good example of this. The plaintiff was not a nearly hired mail room clerk; she was a state court judge on the New Jersey Superior Court bench. During the second half of 2015, the judge’s supervisor, who was also a judge and also a woman, allegedly made derogatory remarks about the plaintiff’s gender, her demeanor and her appearance.

The supervisory judge allegedly belittled and demeaned the plaintiff in front of her staff, and was abusive toward her on other occasions, as well. Furthermore, the supervisor launched accusations against the plaintiff asserting that she engaged in multiple forms of judicial misconduct.

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Nearly everyone has an idea of what they think sex discrimination looks like. Maybe it’s an employer that refuses to hire a male applicant because he’s a man, or an employer that refuses to promote a female employee because she’s a woman. Those are clear-cut examples, but sex discrimination goes further than just that. One area of illegal sex discrimination is when you are punished at work for failing to conform to a certain stereotype generally affiliated with your gender. When that happens, you should contact a knowledgeable New Jersey sex discrimination attorney and explore your legal options.

One example of this kind of discrimination was on display in a federal lawsuit filed by an inspector at a food company’s facility. Allegedly, the employee’s supervisors “constantly” called him a wide array of homophobic epithets. One supervisor derided the employee’s car as “something a [gay slur] would drive.” The inspector, despite his allegedly enduring an onslaught of homophobic harassment, actually was heterosexual.

The judge in the inspector’s case said he could go forward with his pursuit of his employer. Federal law, as it currently exists in the Third Circuit (which includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware) doesn’t recognize discrimination claims based on a worker’s sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation, but does recognize as illegal discrimination based on ‘gender stereotyping,’ which means punishing a male worker for being insufficiently masculine or a female worker for not being feminine enough. The worker need not be gay or lesbian; in fact, the worker in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case on gender stereotyping was a heterosexual woman.

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On April 7, Gov. Phil Murphy ended the state of emergency for an additional 30 days. While the protective measures currently in places are necessary to flatten the curve and save lives, they are having a negative impact on some businesses. Many employers, due to the recent financial setbacks, have begun (or have begun exploring) furloughing or laying off groups of employees. Even during these difficult economic times, the current pandemic does not give employers the freedom to engage in illegal discrimination. That includes employers engaging in layoffs. If you think you were laid off on an illegal basis, be sure you contact an experienced New Jersey employment attorney promptly.

The EEOC composed a recent document warning employers that they should proceed with care when approaching potential layoffs, so that it does end up engaging in illegal discrimination through its layoff process. New Jersey law is very clear that employer policies or actions that predominantly harm people of a protected group, even if they are neutral on their faces, are often illegal. As the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) has stated, if a policy or action “has a disparate impact on a protected group and is not related to [the ability] to perform important job duties, it may be deemed unlawful.”

For example, an employer might prefer to use a reduction in force to reduce salary expenses by laying some of its higher-paid employees. If the employer proceeds incorrectly, its reduction in force may lay off predominantly older employees in favor of younger people.

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If you have been harmed by sex discrimination at work, you perhaps know that you may be able to sue and seek compensation in federal court under a federal law called “Title VII.” However, what you may not have known is that, in New Jersey, you potentially may be able file in federal court and pursue sex discrimination damages not just under Title VII, but also Title IX. This option is not available in all federal courts everywhere in the country, so if you have a federal discrimination case that you potentially can file in multiple different places, it may be advantageous to go forward in the District of New Jersey. Choosing the right court in which to file is one of many vitally important decisions that must be made during your case, so make sure you have a knowledgeable New Jersey sex discrimination attorney representing you from the very start.

One recent example of what a difference state boundaries can make came from the federal trial court in Connecticut. A female college professor was denied tenure and sued for sex discrimination, asserting a claim under federal Title IX. She lost, as the federal judge ruled that the professor couldn’t advance this kind of sex discrimination case under a Title IX claim.

At this point, you may be thinking, that sounds discouraging… how is that case and that outcome good news for me in New Jersey? The answer to that question lies in two legal concepts called jurisdiction and venue. When you decide to proceed in court, you have to file your case someplace where the court has jurisdiction, which means someplace where the judge has the authority to issue a judgment and or order that is legally binding on the parties. You also have to choose a court where venue is appropriate.

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Many studies have shown that the gender pay gap is real and is persisting. There are many ways in which employers can (and do) contribute to this problem. One is by perpetuating old discrimination by basing a new hire’s salary on what he/she was making at his/her previous job(s). This demand for a “salary history” was common for many decades, but is now being eradicated in many places, including New Jersey, which recently banned the practice. If you have suffered discrimination in the form of an improper salary history demand from a potential employer, you should contact a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination attorney about your situation.

Many of these statutes and ordinances banning salary history disclosures are relatively new, and are still facing court challenges. A salary history ban ordinance in Philadelphia just cleared a major hurdle when the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the city and found the ordinance constitutional. Philadelphia’s “Wage Equity Ordinance” said employers couldn’t inquire about an applicant’s earnings history, couldn’t require disclosure of earnings history and couldn’t retaliate against an applicant for failing to disclose previous earnings.

The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce sought to prevent enforcement of the ordinance, arguing that banning employers from asking these sorts of questions violated the employers’ free speech rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A federal district judge even agreed with the chamber, concluding that the ordinance represented a free speech violation and barring enforcement of the ordinance.

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Discrimination law has come a long way in the last half-century. As recently as 50 years ago, a major aviation company refused to hire women if they were mothers to very young children. 30 years ago, American Airlines still had a policy that called for the termination of female flight attendants if they were anything more than quite thin. For example, a 5’5” tall female flight attendant could be fired if she weighed 130 pounds or more.

Today, these types of employment actions and policies could potentially give a harmed worker a winning discrimination claim. They potentially represent a subset of discrimination law called “sex-plus” discrimination. In these circumstances, the employers aren’t committing “regular” sex discrimination, but are discriminating based on “sex plus” one other characteristic, such as sex plus motherhood status. It’s against the law and, if you have been harmed at work due to this type of discrimination, you may be entitled to a significant sum of damages, so you should take the time to contact an experienced New Jersey sex discrimination attorney right away.

Regrettably, this type of discrimination still occurs. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals looked at such a case last year, ruling for the fired employee. That employee, K.C.R., took a job in 2015 as a Pennsylvania-based district manager for a chain of adult bookstores. Her employment duration was extremely short. Her first day was Nov. 9. On Thursday, Nov. 19, she texted C.M., the man who had hired her, to tell him that she had gotten married that previous weekend. On Friday, Nov. 20, she was fired.

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When you’ve endured discrimination or sexual harassment at work, you’re probably feeling a lot of things – anxiety, anger, confusion and fear may be among them. Amidst all that stress, there’s also a harsh calculation many such victims must make: do I report or don’t I? What happens if I do report? Will I be ostracized, demoted, fired or blacklisted?

Of course, it is extraordinarily unfair that victims have to think this way, but retaliation is a terrible reality in the workplace. However, if you suffer reprisals after you decide to file a harassment or discrimination complaint, that retaliation is, in itself, a potential basis for a successful outcome in court. Whatever kind of misconduct you’ve been the victim of, you shouldn’t suffer in silence and you shouldn’t go it alone. Reach out to a knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorney who can help you carefully identify all of your options and assess which one is best for you.

One of the important things to know is that you don’t have to win your underlying discrimination or harassment case in order to win your retaliation case. S.M.’s lawsuit is a good example. S.M. worked for a New Jersey-based bank for 36 years. She received several promotions and rose to the rank of “First Vice President” in 2004.

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