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GavelSometimes, when an employee is a victim of sexual harassment, the employer may respond quickly and appropriately, following well-established procedures and policies that it created in advance. Many other times, though, that’s not the case, and that latter scenario is something that may give rise to a sexual harassment lawsuit. Your New Jersey sexual harassment attorney can help you analyze your case and decide what a good manner to proceed may be.

One case recently decided by the Appellate Division involved an employee working for a chain of convenience and food stores. When the employee started in 1999, the employer gave her a copy of its employment handbook, which included the business’ anti-sexual harassment policies. At an awards dinner in 2010, one of the company’s loss prevention employees allegedly sexually harassed the woman repeatedly.

The woman reported the harassment on a survey related to the dinner. The employer investigated and reprimanded the loss prevention employee, including a formal written admonishment, mandatory attendance at a sexual harassment training session, and prohibition from future contact with the alleged victim.

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seniorIn any discrimination case, there can be traps and pitfalls that await you as a worker. In some cases, some of these litigation hazards can vary based upon where your lawsuit takes place, which is why an experienced New Jersey age discrimination attorney can be so vital to your case. For example, in some places, the fact that the same person who hired you also fired you soon after hiring you is considered very strong proof that no discriminatory motive existed. This is not true in the Third Circuit, which encompasses New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. In part due to this variation in the law, a man employed in Pennsylvania was able to go forward with his age and disability discrimination case.

The plaintiff in the case, Edward, was 63 when he began working for an employer that managed non-profit retirement communities. Only 14 months after Edward started his job as the entity’s Chief Financial Officer, the employer terminated him. According to the employer, the termination resulted from Edward’s poor performance, specifically, his numerous “errors in financial reports, financial models, and cash sheets.”

The employee sued his former employer. In his action, he alleged that the employer terminated him not because of his mistakes but because of his age (64) and his disability (a heart condition). The employer, in turn, asked the trial judge to issue a summary judgment in its favor. It argued that the evidence brought forward showed that Edward had no case.

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Pregnant womanThirty-nine years ago this fall, President Jimmy Carter signed into law the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Thirty-six years later, Governor Chris Christie signed into law New Jersey’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which added pregnancy discrimination to the list of illegal forms of discrimination under the Law Against Discrimination. Despite all of these advances in statutory laws, though, pregnancy discrimination still occurs, unfortunately. One of the keys, if you think your employer has discriminated against you based upon your pregnancy, is to contact experienced New Jersey discrimination counsel right away. One North Jersey expectant mom did exactly that and, based upon a recent ruling by the Appellate Division, will be able to take her discrimination case to trial.

The pregnant woman was a medical technician at a clinic in Union County. The end of her employment, as described in her complaint, was an unfortunately common scenario. In late July 2014, she notified her employer that she was pregnant, and hers was a high-risk pregnancy. Less than one week later, one of the doctors who ran the clinic ordered her to wash the second-floor windows. In her first 18 months, the technician had received exactly zero directives to clean windows. Allegedly thinking that the doctor was joking, the technician responded, “I don’t do windows.”

The same doctor issued the same command twice more that day. Allegedly, the technician refused each time because, at her diminutive height, cleaning the floor-to-ceiling windows would’ve meant climbing a ladder, which can be very unhealthy for women with high-risk pregnancies. After the third refusal, the doctor fired her.

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Best BuySometimes, the difference between a successful outcome and an unsuccessful one can be seemingly very tiny details. A knowledgeable New Jersey discrimination attorney can provide you with the assistance and representation you need when it comes to identifying those details and using them to your maximum advantage. In the case of one electronics store manager who alleged that his employer fired him due to age discrimination, he was able to pursue his case in the court system, rather than in arbitration, since he successfully persuaded the courts that he only acknowledged receipt of the employer’s new arbitration agreement and never affirmatively assented to it.

The plaintiff was the store manager at a “big box” electronics store in Woodbridge. Early in 2016, the employer sought to introduce a new policy that stated that, if an employee had a complaint that was not resolved internally, the appropriate step to launch a formal legal claim was to pursue arbitration, rather than to go to court.

The employer introduced the policy via something called an “eLearning module.” That module presented the terms of the arbitration policy and instructed the employee that, by continuing to work at the store, the employee was agreeing to be governed by the arbitration policy. The end of the module had an electronic checkbox where the employee would acknowledge having read the new policy.

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gavel and scalesIn some New Jersey discrimination and retaliation cases, the employer’s action may be motivated plainly by discriminatory intent. In a lot of cases, though, employers are motivated in the actions they take by a mixture of discriminatory bases and legitimate bases. An important new decision from the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals, whose decisions cover New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, decided that an employee could use a mixed-motive theory in his case alleging that his employer discriminated against him for using Family and Medical Leave Act leave. Understanding all of the methods for pursuing your discrimination case and properly employing the right ones is just one of a wide array of areas in which your New Jersey discrimination attorney can provide invaluable aid to your case.

The plaintiff in the recent federal case was a man who took a job as a projects manager in 2008. At that time, he had suffered from migraines for 13 years, dating back to a 1995 accident. In March 2012, the employer transferred the manager to its engineering department. The job transfer almost immediately triggered a spike in the manager’s migraine problems. Just one month later, he applied for FMLA leave and was approved for intermittent FMLA leave.

By the following October, the employer terminated the manager. The manager sued, asserting a claim that, among other things, the employer discriminated against him for his seeking and using FMLA leave. The manager’s case asserted that the employer was motivated by a mixture of legitimate and discriminatory reasons, which is known as a “mixed-motive” theory of liability. In some situations, an employee’s case may assert that the employer’s motivation was completely discriminatory, but, in many cases, the employer is driven by a mixture of legitimate and improper impulses.

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nurseIn general, the law opposes employers discriminating against employees based upon a disability or a perceived disability. This isn’t true, though, when an employee’s disability could translate to a risk to herself, her co-workers, or the employer’s customers or clients. The key then, for any employee pursuing a New Jersey disability discrimination case, is to show that such a risk doesn’t exist. For one North Jersey nurse, the fact that there was no proof that she was a “materially enhanced risk of serious harm” to herself, her patients, or her co-workers meant that she was allowed to go forward with her disability discrimination case, according to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

The plaintiff was an experienced registered nurse who had begun, in 2000, working in a hospital unit where roughly 50% of the patients were stroke victims. These patients needed considerable assistance with regular daily activities. Starting in 2007, the nurse had several work-related accidents. First, she injured her left shoulder moving a patient. That injury required surgery. Then she injured her right shoulder a year later. That injury required no medical action. Then she re-injured her left shoulder, requiring another surgery. Finally, she injured her cervical spine, which required back surgery.

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African-American WorkerDiscrimination and harassment based upon race can take different forms and patterns in the workplace. In some situations, it may be more subtle and frequent, with veiled or oblique comments or actions occurring often. Sometimes, the frequency is much less, but the discrimination or harassment is far from subtle or oblique. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed the latter scenario, entering an important ruling on behalf of future New Jersey race discrimination and harassment victims in the workplace. The ruling clarifies that an employee may have a case if he proves that the improper conduct was pervasive or was severe, and, depending on other circumstances, even a single use of the most extremely offensive racial slur could be enough to meet the standard for “severe.”

Atron and John were two African-American men hired as general laborers to work on an energy company’s pipeline project. One day, while the men were working on a fence removal task, a supervisor allegedly told them that, if they completed the work in a particularly shoddy manner, they would be fired. The supervisor didn’t use the word “shoddy,” though, instead using a descriptor that incorporated the N-word. The alleged statement was made in front of other non-African-American workers.

The men reported this slur to a superior. Shortly thereafter, they were fired. After their terminations, the men sued for harassment, racial discrimination, and retaliation. The federal District Court assigned to the case threw it out, concluding that the law required proof that the alleged misconduct was “pervasive and regular,” and these men’s case, which rested primarily upon the one-time use of the N-word, could not possibly meet this legal hurdle.

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interview sampleSometimes, if you are pursuing a case alleging employment discrimination in the hiring process, the existence of an employer’s formal and objective system for selecting new hires can be a major hindrance to your case. Other times, though, it can actually help. In the recent case of two employment candidates in their 50s and 60s, the latter was true after they were able to prove that the employer passed over them to hire lower-ranking candidates who were in their 30s and 20s. The deviation from the ranking system was enough to give the men a viable claim of age discrimination, according to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

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scales of justiceThe case of a Delaware professor, who claimed that her employer fired her in retaliation for making a sexual harassment and discrimination complaint, got new life after the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in the matter recently. Although the case might require proof that the employer would not have fired her but for the complaint, that level of proof wasn’t required to make a prima facie showing of retaliation, so she should have been allowed to proceed.

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law booksA sales employee for a large corporation lost her job at age 45 when her employer terminated her and replaced her with another employee who was only 38. Although the two employees’ age difference was less than 10 years, the fired employee still was able to go forward with her Age Discrimination in Employment Act case in federal court. The judge, in denying summary judgment to the employer, pointed out that previous rulings from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals (which includes New Jersey) have found that age gaps as small as five years can sometimes qualify as “sufficiently younger” and satisfy the ADEA, Bloomberg BNA reported.

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