Articles Posted in Sex / Marital Status Discrimination

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The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination’s employment discrimination protections for breastfeeding mothers are among some of the stronger ones in the country. A group within the University of California, Hastings College of Law placed New Jersey (along with New York) in a group of 12 states boasting the “most proactive laws” when it comes to protecting breastfeeding mothers in the workplace. Unfortunately, even with these laws on the books, discrimination against working women who are also breastfeeding mothers occurs far more often than it should. If you are a working mom and your employer isn’t giving you a reasonable accommodation for nursing or pumping, or has taken adverse action against you because of these activities, then that employer may be in violation of the law and you may be entitled to significant compensation. Contact an experienced New Jersey employment discrimination attorney to find out more.

A recent report from Patch shows an alleged example of pregnancy discrimination that is all too typical. According to an action taken by the Division on Civil Rights, the harmed employee was a new mom who worked for the Burlington location of a chain of discount vision service and eyewear stores.

Allegedly, after the new mother returned from her approved maternity leave, her employer switched her from full-time hours to part-time. This, of course, has a particularly harmful effect on many employees (including this mom) because the difference between full-time hours and part-time hours often means the difference between being eligible for healthcare benefits for you and your family, and being ineligible.

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Many industries, including the practice of law, have codes of “professional conduct” that outline the things practitioners should and shouldn’t do. When you take a principled stand at work, whether due to your professional, ethical obligations or your personal convictions, there could be a professional risk to you if that stand works against the financial interests of your employer. And, sometimes, that blowback from your employer can be worse if you are of the “wrong” gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. If that happens, you may have a potentially winning Law Against Discrimination case, so you should reach out to an experienced New Jersey workplace discrimination attorney right away.

L.P., who was recently successful in defeating a defense request for summary judgment, allegedly was one of those people. She had a job as a senior vice president and “general counsel” (which typically means the #1 in-house attorney) for an Atlantic City casino and resort. According to her lawsuit, the attorney, in the course of doing her job duties, came across some problematic paperwork. The casino’s audit committee allegedly had prepared a report that was to be submitted to the state’s Division for Gaming Enforcement that, the attorney believed, contained factual inaccuracies, according to a Courier-Post report.

Concerned about the potential ramifications of submitting a document with false information to the state regulatory body that governs casinos, the attorney contacted the casino’s CEO. The CEO suggested that the attorney write alternate language that would correct the factual errors, then present that language to the casino’s audit committee, according to the Courier-Post.

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Sometimes, the alleged facts that support a worker’s employment discrimination lawsuit show blatant discrimination. An executive manager, who emails his HR director with instructions to fire a pregnant receptionist because she’s a “liability” and also instructs the HR director not to bring any more pregnant employees onboard, would likely be proof of clear pregnancy discrimination. Many times, the proof upon which you must rely involves actions that are much more subtle, making success more challenging but far from impossible. Whether your case involves blatant discrimination or subtle discrimination, an experienced New Jersey employment attorney can help you enhance your chances of a successful result.

J.L. was someone who allegedly faced workplace discrimination on multiple fronts – both as a gay man and as a foster parent. As this blog reported two years ago, J.L., a social worker for a South Jersey school district, allegedly was the target of an extensive wave of disparaging remarks and more from coworkers due to his status as a single gay man and a foster parent.

According to the lawsuit, which the social worker and the school district settled in October after J.L. began pursuing foster parenting, coworkers began telling him things regarding how he didn’t need foster kids, but rather needed “to find a woman and have kids with a woman” or to “just get another pet.”

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Most of us are graded at work on our outward appearance, whether that grading takes place in a spoken or unspoken manner, and whether we realize it or not. Sometimes, this is quite appropriate, such as requiring certain vestiges of formality in dress and appearance at certain professional office workplaces. Other times, though, it is decidedly not. If you find yourself on the receiving end of inappropriate comments at work that relate to your appearance, those comments may be more than offensive… they may be the basis of a valid claim for sex discrimination. When that happens to you, contact a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination attorney to discuss your situation in full detail.

So, what can “inappropriate” look like? Consider this recent case from federal court as an example. J.P., the employee, was a patient coordinator for a plastic surgery medical surgery practice. J.P. was also a woman who had to put up with a lot of demeaning workplace comments related to her appearance and the appearances of her colleagues, according to her lawsuit.

J.P.’s supervisor allegedly criticized the darkness of her skin (“you look like a minority”), her lips (looking “Amazon”) and her carriage (“like [someone] in a ‘wet t-shirt contest’”). The supervisor also criticized J.P.’s colleagues as too “frumpy” and one woman as “too ugly” to begin work at the practice until she had “work done.”

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If you are familiar with commercial airplanes, then you probably know the name “McDonnell Douglas” from its many well-known jets, including the DC 10. For people, such as an experienced New Jersey employment attorney, who are knowledgeable about discrimination law, the name “McDonnell Douglas” is familiar for a different reason. That’s because, in a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case bearing the company’s name, the high court created an important framework that victims of workplace discrimination, including those in New Jersey, still use today in their lawsuits.

The “McDonnell Douglas framework,” as it is called, comes in three parts. The first hurdle involves you, as the worker who was harmed by discrimination, establishing a “prima facie case” of discrimination.

A prima facie case of discrimination involves showing that you were a member of a protected class (like age, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.), that you were qualified for the job you held, and that you suffered an adverse employment action (such as demotion, termination, reduction in hours, etc.) because of your membership in that protected class.

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On April 24, 2018, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act. That new law represented a huge step forward when it comes to closing the wage gap between men and women, and the fruits of that new law are starting to be seen. Recent reports of successful outcomes in equal pay litigation cases have started to emerge. If you have been hurt by the wage gap, you should take heart from these recent reports. Armed with this new law and the important new legal options it provides, you have fewer reasons than ever to delay retaining a skilled New Jersey employment attorney if you think you’ve been harmed by discriminatory pay practices.

The Equal Pay Act allows a harmed worker to pursue a civil lawsuit. What is special and noteworthy about this kind of lawsuit is that the Equal Pay Act says that, if you prevail, you may recover treble damages. You may only have heard of “treble” in music class but, in the law, “treble” means triple. So, in other words, if you can prove that you lost out on $200,000 in income due to an equal pay violation, you may be able to recover a damages award of $600,000.

There’s an additional subtle benefit that the possibility of triple damages provides to harmed workers: it gives employers added incentive to settle equal pay lawsuits prior to trial.

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An ancient Chinese proverb says that a “journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This wisdom recognizes that, to accomplish any undertaking, you must first take that initial step (and, implicitly, keep taking each step and clearing each hurdle one at a time) until you reach your destination. Your discrimination or harassment case can be a lot like that. It may seem massive, overwhelming and intimidating at first but, with the aid of a skilled New Jersey employment attorney, you can clear all the hurdles and achieve a positive result… one step at a time.

One of the most important steps in any discrimination case is clearing the hurdle presented by the defense’s motion for summary judgment. If you don’t clear this hurdle, then your case is thrown out without a trial and you recover nothing. Additionally, for workers who are open to settlement, it is often the case that employers’ settlement offers will become much larger and fairer after they’ve lost their motions for summary judgment as compared to before that outcome.

Defeating a defense motion for summary judgment does not require providing the court with as much proof as you’d need to win at trial. For example, look at the recently decided case of N.H., a New Jersey college professor.

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In this blog and elsewhere, you may see phrases like “act today” and “don’t delay” when considering contacting an experienced New Jersey employment attorney if you think you’ve been the victim of workplace discrimination and/or harassment. That’s good advice, because, while there are many reasons people might feel the urge to delay taking action, none of them will help, and none will be any comfort, when a potentially winnable discrimination case gets dismissed because it was filed too late.

Consider the lawsuit filed by S.J., a legal administrative assistant in the Morristown office of a major multi-state law firm, as a cautionary tale. According to the woman, I.S., one of the male attorneys working in the office’s labor and employment department began engaging in inappropriate sexual conduct in 2014, including sexually explicit texts and non-consensual touching of her breasts and genitals.

Allegedly, the assistant complained about the attorney to her office administrator but, rather than take action, the administrator told the assistant “that if she was unhappy…, she should look for another job.” Eventually, the firm fired S.J. in June 2017.

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As anyone who’s lived long enough knows, doing the right thing something carries a price in life. However, doing the right thing by standing up in opposition to discrimination and/or harassment at work should not carry a cost when it comes to your job… but too often it does. If you have been the victim of workplace retaliation after you stood up against discrimination – whether that discrimination was targeted toward you or someone else – you may be entitled to recover substantial compensation through a lawsuit. Reach out to an experienced New Jersey employment law attorney right away to find out more about your options.

A recent case settlement making news here in New Jersey allegedly involved an instance of exactly that sort of retaliation. The employee, K.D., first accepted a job with the police department in 1996. K.D. rose to become the first (and only) female lieutenant in that police department, according to a mycentraljersey.com report.

The woman’s lawsuit alleged that department leadership routinely discriminated against women and racial minorities, hiring only 11 women (including K.D.) and 16 African Americans to its 105-member force.

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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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