Articles Posted in Sex / Marital Status Discrimination

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Police officers — and law enforcement agencies generally — have come under increased scrutiny in recent months and years. Major news sources have focused extensively on the misuse of deadly force in interacting with suspects.

While that problem affects members of the community generally, there is an additional very real problem that affects some of the service-minded people who work, or desire to work, in law enforcement. That problem is discrimination and sexual harassment, and it affects a wide swath of people who wear a badge or seek to do so, including women and LGBT people. If you’ve suffered illegal discrimination or harassment while working in law enforcement (or applying for a law enforcement position,) then you should act promptly to reach out to an experienced New Jersey sex / gender discrimination attorney about your legal options.

One group that is especially affected by the harassment and discrimination that goes on inside law enforcement is women. Even today, very few women are employed as police officers. Nationally, that number is somewhere between 10 and 15%. In many New Jersey cities and towns, that number is lower. For example, in North Brunswick, where one female officer recently sued for discrimination and sexual harassment, reported that only five of 85 officers (6%) were females.

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In this space (and likely in others,) you’ve read discussion of many of the various forms of employment discrimination that exist. Some of them are fairly overt. If, for example, you discover an email where your supervisor says that you should be fired because pregnant employees are too costly for the company, then you have a straightforward case of pregnancy discrimination. Others are less direct and more subtle. For example, when employers ask a job candidate’s salary history, those employers often end up perpetuating the underpayment of employees who have been historically been underpaid in the past. In that way, these salary history questions help perpetuate the gender wage gap.

In other words, discrimination can come in many variations and shades. It doesn’t have to be something overt or obvious. If you think you’ve been harmed by discriminatory employment practices, you owe it to yourself to contact a knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorney.

When it comes to the troubles connected to salary history questions, that problem is about to become less common in New Jersey. Last year, Gov. Murphy signed into law a bill that banned salary history questions in all aspects of state government hiring. Now, the state has a law on the books that says that any employer who asks salary history questions has violated the law, has reported.

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The New York City Council made headlines recently as a result of two new bills it passed. Those new bills related to a very important, although still emerging, area when it comes to protecting employees from impermissible sex discrimination. That area is discrimination against lactating mothers. The new bills require employers in the city, who have 15 or more employees, to create an appropriate place to nurse or express breast milk. The other bill requires those same employers to craft a written lactation policy and to provide that policy to all new hires. Lactating employees in New Jersey already have many of these protections. If you think that you’ve suffered discrimination at work due to your breastfeeding, or your employer has failed to accommodate your breastfeeding properly, reach out to a New Jersey employment attorney to discover more about what options you may have.

The New York City bill regarding a lactation space set out some very specific requirements designed to protect lactating employees’ privacy and to allow them to express breast milk in a reasonably safe and comfortable space. The bill says that the space for lactation must be someplace other than a bathroom, that it must be sanitary and that it must be “shielded from view and free from intrusion.”

The bill requires the space to have certain minimum accessories, such as an electrical outlet, a chair, a sink and a surface that can accommodate a breast pump. The bill doesn’t require employers to dedicate a space exclusively for lactation, but if a lactating employee is using the room, it cannot be used for other things while that employee is nursing or “pumping.”

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Arbitration 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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All 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, 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 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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If 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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New 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, 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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In 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 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, reported.

One of the bill’s sponsors stated in the 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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Effective 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, 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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A 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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