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While TV shows often are replete with office romances, the real world is frequently much more complicated. Relationships with coworkers can be filled with potential pitfalls, especially if the pursuer is someone with greater workplace power than the pursued. These situations too often aren’t entirely consensual but rather involve explicit or implicit promises/threats about the benefits of accepting or the harms of refusing. When that happens, you may have been the victim of illegal conduct, so you should discuss your situation with a knowledgeable New Jersey sexual harassment lawyer.

Certainly, members of the legal community should be well aware of the laws against sexual harassment in New Jersey but, regrettably, law offices throughout this state are not immune to instances of alleged sexual harassment, as Law360’s report about one recent East Brunswick sexual harassment case highlights.

The woman, M.B., was a paralegal for a male attorney from March 2019 to July 2022. During the paralegal’s second year of employment, she and the attorney engaged in a sexual relationship for four months. The relationship was entirely mutually consensual. The paralegal ended the affair in November 2020.

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In some cases, the religious discrimination you encounter at work may be the result of differing faiths, like an atheist supervisor relentlessly teasing a Muslim subordinate about her religious head covering, or a Catholic supervisor firing a subordinate when she discovered the subordinate was Wiccan. Religious discrimination at work is not limited, however, to disagreements between people of differing faiths. It is possible for you to be the target of illegal employment discrimination based on religion even if you and the person responsible for the discrimination are members of the same religion, same denomination, or even the same church body. In either scenario, the law protects workers from this kind of hostility at work, so you should get in touch with a knowledgeable New Jersey religious discrimination lawyer about how to protect your rights.

The religious discrimination case of L.S., a South Jersey woman who worked as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at a Voorhees Township assisted living facility, is an example of the latter of the two above categories.

L.S. worked for the facility for roughly 18 months until the employer terminated her in January 2021. Before the nurse started working at the facility she attended a church whose members also included P.W., a unit manager at the same assisted living facility. Before the nurse started her job at the facility, she left that congregation due to “issues with the church’s administration.”

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In early 2021, the governor of New Jersey signed into law a bill that, among other things, protected New Jersey workers from certain adverse consequences as a result of their legal use of marijuana off the clock. If you’ve been fired or suffered other negative consequences as a result of your legal marijuanba use, your employer may have violated the law. Get in touch with an experienced New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer right away to protect yourself and your rights.

More recently, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission published workplace guidelines that established protections for legal users. One of the biggest takeaways from the commission’s new guidance is that, while employers may still test for marijuana, they may not punish their workers solely as a result of workers’ testing positive in a drug screen for marijuana metabolites (THC).

The new guidelines say that employers seeking to penalize a worker primarily must look for “behavioral indicators” or “physical signs or symptoms” sufficient to support a reasonable suspicion that the employee has attended work while intoxicated. If the employer has identified one or more of these indicators and/or signs, then a positive test result may also be included as part of the employer’s reasonable suspicion about a worker’s having worked while high on marijuana.

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A collective bargaining agreement between teachers and a school district in Minnesota has made waves inside and outside the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The part of the agreement receiving the most scrutiny is the one establishing affirmative action in layoffs. While the Minnesota agreement will affect no New Jersey workers, it still makes for a useful opportunity to remind New Jersey workers that the law has limits on what employers can do in efforts to remediate historical and/or systemic racism. Some programs, however well intended, may cross the line into the realm of illegal race discrimination, giving those harmed the opportunity, with the aid of a skilled New Jersey race discrimination lawyer, the opportunity to pursue – and win – a civil lawsuit.

The Minnesota agreement, which was between the Minneapolis Public Schools and the teachers’ union, said that teachers who were members of “underrepresented populations” were exempt from the general rule for layoffs, which was one of “last hired, first fired.” In other words, in the event of layoffs, the school district would potentially bypass a teacher of color with less seniority and instead select a white teacher with more seniority for that layoff.

Supporters of the policy hailed it as a necessary step to make up for past discrimination against people of color and the underrepresentation of communities of color among the schools’ faculties, helping schools’ faculties to look would more closely like the students they’re teaching. Opponents decried the rule as a blatant instance of race discrimination against white teachers.

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Grace Hopper, a pioneering computer scientist and rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, is credited with having observed that the “hardest thing in the world is to change the minds of people who keep saying, ‘But we’ve always done it this way.’ These are days of fast changes and if we don’t change with them, we can get hurt or lost,” the admiral told a Baltimore newspaper. That reality rings true for employers and supervisors who think that “we’ve always done it this way” works as some sort of immunity against liability for sexual harassment. It doesn’t and, if you’ve endured harassment from an “old boys club” who told you “we’ve always done it this way,” then you should get in touch with an experienced New Jersey sexual harassment lawyer to discuss your situation.

One area where too many employers seem to have a blind eye to the need for change is the issue of mixing business and strip clubs. Most recently, a female employee scored an important federal court victory in her sexual harassment case against her employer, a New Jersey corporation that provided “products and services to mobile network operators.”

The employee, B.C., alleged that the employer’s president and chief technology officer twice attempted to kiss her. Additionally, her supervisor took clients to strip clubs and engaged in discussions of his strip club trips that made B.C. “uncomfortable.”

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If you follow this blog with any degree of regularity, you know that one of the most pernicious forms of employment discrimination is pregnancy and/or breastfeeding discrimination. Here in New Jersey, the protections the law has created are strong, and, for some pregnant and/or breastfeeding mothers, they just got stronger through new protocols announced by the Attorney General’s Office (OAG). If you’ve endured discrimination at work because of your pregnancy or because you’re breastfeeding, don’t wait to get in touch with an experienced New Jersey pregnancy discrimination lawyer.

Pregnancy and/or breastfeeding discrimination in employment remains stubbornly frequent, likely reflecting the persistence of harmful stereotypes and biased views against these workers. Unlike, say, 75 years ago, most people today understand that a person shouldn’t be fired or denied employment just because they’re Black or Asian or an atheist, etc. However, far too many people, deep down actually believe that pregnant women and/or breastfeeding women genuinely should not be in the workplace.

The instances have occurred many times and continue to appear in court dockets. In 2021, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling laying out the breadth of coverage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the causes of action it creates.

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Many times, employers prefer to resolve employees’ claims of discrimination or harassment through arbitration rather than litigation. To that end, they often place arbitration clauses within the employment documents that new hires sign at the start of their employment. Sometimes, those provisions are clearly written and properly presented to provide the new employee with fair notice of the clause’s terms. However, when they’re not, then you as an employee may be able to use those facts to escape arbitration. If you’re pursuing an employment discrimination case and you need to defeat an arbitration provision, an experienced New Jersey national origin discrimination lawyer can show what avenues may be available to you to get that done.

The national origin discrimination case of G.R. is an example of a dispute that turned on the arbitration clause he signed.

G.R., a man of Turkish and European descent, accepted a role as the Director of Human Resources at a pharmaceutical company’s US headquarters in Berkeley Heights. As part of the acceptance process, G.R. signed several papers, including an acceptance letter and something labeled a “Proprietary Information and Inventions Agreement.” The latter was six pages long and contained an arbitration clause situated at the top of page five.

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Success in an employment discrimination lawsuit in New Jersey is a series of steps that you have to navigate successfully, one at a time, to get to a successful outcome. Before you can have your day in court at a trial, you probably will need to defeat your employer’s motion for summary judgment. One of the key things to know about your case at the summary judgment stage is that you don’t have to present definitive proof that illegal conduct undoubtedly occurred. You simply have to offer enough to demonstrate that legitimate “questions of fact” exist regarding why your employer took its adverse action against you. As long as you have enough for a “rational factfinder” (a/k/a a jury in a jury trial or a judge in a bench trial) to find that the employer’s stated reasons were mere pretexts for discrimination, then your employer loses its motion and you get to proceed toward trial. Whatever phase your case is in, advice and advocacy from an experienced New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer can help you enhance your odds of success.

For an example of what you do — and don’t — need, there’s this recent national origin discrimination case from North Jersey.

N.O., a Nigerian woman living in New Jersey, taught elementary school in an Essex County school district from 2014 to 2017. N.O.’s job was a non-tenured one and, at the end of the 2016-17 school year, the district elected not to renew her contract, thus terminating her employment in June 2017.

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In April, we discussed incidences of workers enduring harassment and/or discrimination based on current events. That topic has again risen to the forefront in the wake of the 2022 monkeypox outbreak. Regardless of terrorism at home, war abroad, or a disease outbreak, there’s never a valid reason to discriminate against somebody at work because of their national origin, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. If that has happened to you, you should get in touch with a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer to discuss what steps you can take.

Back in the early 2000s, many people of Middle Eastern ethnicity and/or of the Islamic faith experienced discrimination and harassment in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. More recently, Chinese and other East Asian people encountered mistreatment when the COVID-19 pandemic began to rage across the United States. People of Russian ancestry encountered issues after the events in Ukraine flared up into war.

Now, there’s another current event and another group being targeted. Monkeypox began to break out overseas in May. In June, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that, of those studied, 95% got monkeypox through sex, and 98% of those with the disease were gay or bisexual men, leading some people to consider monkeypox a “gay disease” and engage in harassment and discrimination against LGBT+ people. In an effort to combat this, the Attorney General’s Office announced the release of a FAQ document related to monkeypox.

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When a worker has devoted decades of service to an employer, they likely hope for recognition and appreciation… and perhaps a nice sendoff party at the end. Many workers experience something much different, where their employers and supervisors view them as past-their-prime old-timers who no longer have “what it takes” and now must be pushed aside, often as ruthlessly and swiftly as possible. If that happens to you as an older worker, that action your employer may simply see as a “business decision” could actually be an instance of illegal age discrimination. A skilled New Jersey age discrimination lawyer can help you assess your circumstances and plot the best path forward.

One such alleged victim of age discrimination recently scored a significant victory in the New Jersey Appellate Division court.

The worker, L.T., was an assistant public defender for nearly 28 years from 1990 to 2017. For the first 22 years, L.T.’s record was “unblemished.” However, in the final 5+ years, the lawyer allegedly experienced an extended pattern of age-related harassment.

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