Phillips & Associates
Phillips & Associates
Phillips & Associates
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Great strides have been made in the last 30 years to eradicate discrimination against people with disabilities. If the proposed version of the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 becomes law, another vestige of legally allowable discrimination against workers with disabilities will be gone, as the law will eliminate the ability of employers to pay people with disabilities subminimum wages. Whenever you think you’ve been the target of disability discrimination at work, you should seek out a knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorney for answers to the questions you have.

The move to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour has been in the headlines a lot recently. The State of New Jersey already has a $15-per-hour minimum wage law on the books. That law makes the state minimum wage $12 per hour for 2021, $13 for 2022, $14 for 2023, and $15 for 2024.

What that state law didn’t do, however, was end the practice of allowing employers to pay people with disabilities subminimum wages. That practice began in 1938 when the federal government enacted the Fair Labor Standards Act, which created the first federally-mandated minimum wage.

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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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Immigrants – both those who are documented and those who aren’t — face potential discrimination in a variety of forms and fashions. Some types – like comments about how immigrants should “go back to where they came from” or are “taking our jobs” – are obvious. Others are more subtle, though just as potentially damaging… and possibly even more so. Regardless of whether the discrimination that harmed you was obvious discrimination or subtle discrimination, it still may have been actionable discrimination, and you should talk to a knowledgeable New Jersey workplace discrimination attorney about your options.

The job application process is one place where subtle and insidious forms of discrimination can occur. They are insidious because the immigrant applicant may not even know that the employer has engaged in illegal practices, even though that’s exactly what has occurred.

One example of that, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, occurred right here in North Jersey. An IT staffing company based in Basking Ridge was caught by the federal government engaging in improper hiring practices.

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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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The events that took place on January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol were jarring to many. Some of those made uncomfortable by what they saw were employers, who subsequently took action by firing employees and severing ties with contractors who were depicted participating in the event, according to news sources like CNN. This has caused many to wonder, can a New Jersey employer or business do that? The answer, as is the case with so many legal issues, is… it depends. For these reasons, it is best to get customized answers based on your specific situation from an experienced New Jersey employment attorney.

Perhaps the first thing to know is that there are a lot of situations where this type of employment action is legally permissible in New Jersey. New Jersey does not have a law that makes participants in political activity or a political group a protected class for purposes of discrimination law. So, if your job is something that fits within the law’s definition of “at-will employment” (which is most jobs), then, yes, chances are high that your employer can fire you.

There are, however, some important situations where that’s not the case. First, if your employment is subject to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), then you’re not an at-will employee. Everyone from teachers to dock workers, who are members of unions, fit into this category. For a unionized worker, the answer to whether or not your employer can fire you for your political activities is contained within your union’s CBA with that employer. Some may allow this basis for termination, but many CBAs likely do not allow it. Your employer’s firing you anyway could constitute a violation of the CBA.

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The scenario is probably all too familiar for some workers. You work hard to break into your chosen field and then to build a successful career. Then, after having done that, you have the rug pulled from beneath you when your employer decides to replace you with someone younger. Maybe the employer did it because of the replacement’s more youthful appearance or because the replacement was cheaper. Either way, you may have been the victim of impermissible age discrimination and may be able to take action through the courts. Don’t let time run out on you; be sure to contact an experienced New Jersey age discrimination attorney without delay to discuss your legal options.

As noted above, there may be many underlying reasons for age discrimination. Sometimes it is financial. Other times, especially for women in the public eye, the reason may be simply related to physical appearance and the perceived greater business benefit from putting a younger female face before the public.

Two New Jersey women were involved in a high-profile lawsuit and settlement, reported by the New York Times, that implicated the latter set of issues.

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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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A few years ago, a team from Carnegie Mellon University completed a study and found that Muslim job candidates faced particularly high levels of discrimination in the hiring process if the employer was located in one of the so-called “red states,” such as in the high plains, the northern Rockies and the southeast. More recently, though, incidents have occurred that raise the specter of anti-Muslim discrimination far away from places like Alabama or Idaho. These incidents demonstrate that, even here in New Jersey, Muslim workers face very real threats of religious discrimination, and that’s especially true in industries like engineering and information technology. If you’ve been harmed as a result of religious discrimination, you have the right to seek compensation in court, so you should reach out to a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination attorney right away.

The most recent potential incident involved an information technology (IT) services company based right here in New Jersey. In late November, news reports began surfacing that exposed an email for an application developer position.

InsiderNJ reported that, at the top of the email, which was addressed to a recruiter, the listing said, “please do not submit Muslim candidates for below position.” The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on the firm to undergo a full investigation and discipline all those involved in wrongdoing.

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With coronavirus numbers surging, Gov. Phil Murphy has stated that a new statewide lockdown is “on the table,” according to news reports. Whether or not the state enters a new lockdown, the state’s skyrocketing COVID-19 cases will likely lead to more and more employers considering remote work for their employees. That, in turn, will likely mean more and more use of technology platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. However, as we’ve seen from recent headlines and news stories, this type of work environment presents its own risks when it comes to discrimination and sexual harassment. If you’ve suffered discrimination or harassment in a virtual meeting, don’t wait… reach out to an experienced New Jersey workplace discrimination attorney today to discuss your legal options.

The use of new technology like Zoom has proven to be fertile ground for both embarrassing blunders and offensive misconduct. These incidents have included a woman who inadvertently broadcast herself on the toilet during a Zoom call; a Brazilian government worker accidentally captured having sex during a Zoom call, and a prominent TV legal analyst who accidentally broadcast his act of self-gratification during an election simulation call with colleagues from the New Yorker.

Some of these stories may yield laughs from readers, but this actually points to a serious issue. Sexual harassment can occur in many ways and isn’t limited to face-to-face encounters. Being involuntarily exposed to unwanted comments, jokes, or material of a sexual nature can also be a form of sexual harassment, even when it happens over Zoom.

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