Please note that, in light of Governor Murphy's recent "stay at home" order in New Jersey due to the COVID-19 pandemic, McLaughlin & Nardi, LLC's attorneys and staff are working remotely at this time. However, we are still ready, willing, and able to address all of your individual and business legal needs. Please contact us by phone at (973) 890-0004 or email at info@esqnj.com. We are committed to providing the same high level of legal services that our clients have come to expect over the years. Thank you.

Published on:

Under New Jersey employment law, a school board must bring tenure charges when it wants to discipline a tenured teacher.  The teacher can then appeal the tenure charges to the New Jersey Commissioner of Education.  The Department of Education then refers the case to an arbitrator for determination of whether or not the charges should be sustained.  New Jersey’s Appellate Division recently examined the procedures for appealing such a tenure arbitration decision in the case of Ragland v. Board of Education of the City of Newark.

Background

Larhonda Ragland was a tenured teacher in the Newark Public School System.  She received consecutive summative evaluations of “ineffective” or “partially ineffective” based on poor student achievement and classroom observations.  The Board therefore served her with tenure charges of inefficiency.  She challenged the Board’s evaluation process, and the Department of Education the referred the charges to an arbitrator.

Published on:

The Appellate Division of the State Superior Court recently issued an opinion on New Jersey construction law in the case of In re Protest Of Contract Award For Project A1150-08, N.J. Executive State House Comprehensive Renovation And Restoration which has troubling NJ_State_House-300x200implications for contractors.  The decision is published, so it is precedent for future cases in which contractors challenge the award of New Jersey construction contracts by state and local governments.  In this post I won’t dwell on the details of which contractor was right and which was wrong, but rather I’ll focus on the Appellate Division’s examination of the procedures followed, which is a cautionary tale about the ability of New Jersey construction contractors to meaningfully object to the award of public contracts.

Background

On November 15, 2019, the New Jersey Division of Management and Construction (“DPMC”) awarded a contract for renovation and restoration of the New Jersey State House to Daniel J. Keating Company, the lowest bidder at $199,498,000.  Hall Construction Co., Inc., which had bid $205,777,000, was the second lowest bidder.

Published on:

The Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey examined the evidence necessary for claims of retaliation, discrimination and harassment under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination and New Jersey’s whistleblower law, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act.  The unpublished opinion also examined what law an employee may bring suit under for whistleblower claims at the same time she is also bringing claims of discrimination and sexual harassment under New Jersey employment law.

Background

Nadine Heller is an associate professor at Middlesex County College (“MCC”).  She received tenure in that position and still holds it.  She also held the position of Chair of the Visual and Performing Media Arts Department.  As Chair she was part of the Department administration.

Published on:

The Appellate Division recently reversed the dismissal of a casino employee’s lawsuit for whistleblower retaliation, discrimination and sexual harassment, demonstrating again that New Jersey employment law provides some of the country’s strongest employee protections, while also demonstrating the limits of those protections.

Background

In that case, Fox v. DGMB Casino, LLC, Regina Fox was employed as director of security by DGMB Casino, LLC (the corporate name for Resorts Casino Hotel), and had worked there for thirty seven years.  She was sixty two.  As director of security, she was in charge of staffing requirements and other regulatory mandates  of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.  Any changes in staffing were required to be reported to the Division.

Published on:

The Appellate Division recently issued an important New Jersey employment law decision concerning the due process rights of tenured teachers.

Tenured teachers have significantly more protections than untenured teachers.

https://www.newjerseylawyersblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/195/2021/01/teacher.1-300x200.jpg
An untenured teacher is essentially an “employee-at-will” who may be terminated without cause; however, an untenured teacher has the right to require that her board of education discuss her termination in public session.  Thus, the board cannot discuss an untenured teacher’s employment without first giving the untenured teacher formal notice of the intention to discuss her employment and the opportunity to require that it be held in public; this notice is referred to as a “Rice Notice” and derives from the Open Public Meetings Act.

Published on:

The New Jersey Wage and Hour Law regulates minimum wage and overtime requirements.  It is New Jersey’s counterpart to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.  The Wage and Hour Law and Fair Labor Standards Act are bedrock elements of New Jersey employment law.  Under the Wage and Hour Law, New Jersey employers must pay overtime at a rate of one and half times an employee’s regular pay if she works more than forty hours a week.  However, if the employer is in imagesCAWQ89PSthe trucking industry, the employer is only legally required to pay overtime at the rate of one and half times minimum wage.  However, if the employer should have paid the higher rate but paid the lower rate, it can raise the defense that it did so in “good faith” reliance on government orders or regulations.

In the case of Branch v. Cream-O-Land Dairy, Elmer Branch filed a class action lawsuit in the New Jersey Superior Court against his employer, Cream-O-Land Dairy, on behalf of himself and similarly situated truck drivers employees, for non-payment of overtime in violation of the Wage and Hour Law.  Cream-O-Land argued that it was not required to pay the higher rate for two reasons.  First, it argued that it was a “trucking industry employer,” and that all the employees were paid at least the lower overtime rate.  Second, it argued that it met the “good faith” defense.  The trial agreed that Cream-O-Land satisfied the good faith defense and dismissed the case on that ground.  Branch appealed to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court which reversed, finding that the matters on which Cream-O-Land relied did not satisfy the statutory requirements of the Wage and Hour Law.

Cream-O-Land then appealed to the Supreme Court of New Jersey.  Because the trial judge did not address the exemption for trucking industry employers the Supreme Court, like the Appellate Division,  examined only whether Cream-O-Land satisfied the good faith defense.  It ruled that it did not.

Published on:

The Appellate Division of the Superior Court recently issued an opinion illustrating several important points regarding construction liens under the New Jersey Construction Lien Law and collection of payment under the New Jersey Prompt Payment Act.

Background

In that case, Prime Time Construction, LLC vs. Vimco, Incorporated, , Prime Time Construction, LLC was the general contractor on three construction projects inconstruction-machine-3412240__340-300x202 Paterson.  The properties were owned by three limited liability companies which were related to Prime Time.  Prime Time executed written subcontracts with Build Logistics, Inc. (“BL”) to do the masonry and excavation work on the projects.  BL executed a written contract with Vimco to provide materials for two of the projects.  Vimco provided the materials directly to BL; it had no contract with Prime Time or the owners.  Prime Time paid BL the full amount under the contract for all the work it performed and materials it provided.  However, BL abandoned the project and failed to pay Vimco.

Published on:

In the recent case of Arku-Nyadia v. Legal Sea Foods, LLC, in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, the federal trial court covering the entire State of New Jersey, Judge Susan Wigenton examined the standards governing motions for summary judgement in lawsuits alleging violation of the Newjustice-2060093_960_720-300x200 Jersey Law Against Discrimination.  In a summary judgment motion, a judge is asked to dismiss a party’s lawsuit because the moving party argues that even if the court took all the evidence in the best light favorable to the other party, it doesn’t create a question of fact for a jury and the moving party should prevail as a matter of law.

Background: The Arku-Nyadia v. Legal Sea Foods, LLC Case

Suzy Arku-Nyadia was a Black woman who was born in Ghana and immigrated to the United States in 1999, to pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees.  She worked for Legal Sea Foods, LLC (“LSF”) for fifteen years at multiple locations, beginning in Virginia in 2002 before transferring to Short Hills, New Jersey in 2004, and thereafter working in both New Jersey and New York.  Her final position was at LSF’s Paramus location.

Published on:

Following a $2 trillion plus stimulus bill passed in the Spring of 2020, the Congress has finally been able to come to terms on another economic stimulus and relief bill, and the president has finally signed it into law.  The bill is over nearly 5,600 pages long and has a whole host of miscellaneous provisions included therein.

However, for small businesses several issues were of particular concern.  First, there have been a host of issues, questions, and need for clarification on the small-business-300x215previously created Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).  Back in the Spring of 2020, that program was created to provide money to small businesses to help them pay their payroll while suffering from financial issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and widespread shut-downs and stay-at-home orders. The new stimulus bill clarifies that expenses paid with these funds may still be used in tax deductions and the amount of the PPP loan would not be considered in calculating the company’s gross income.

PPP funds were generally supposed to be used for (and would only be forgiven for) use in covering payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments.  The new bill should be expanding forgivable expenses to operational expenditures for software or computing services for business operations, property damage due to public disturbances that were not covered by insurance or other compensation, payments to suppliers where the supplies were essential to the operations, made pursuant to a contract prior to the covered period, or for perishable goods, or worker-protection costs required to comply with requirements of state or local governments, the CDC, OSHA, or the Department of Health and Human Services.

Published on:

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) on March 18, 2020.  This law includes two Acts providing for paid leave to be enforced by the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour  Division.  They provide great protections for New Jersey employees which should help the economic recovery.

These 2 Acts are the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.  While the provisions were initially only supposed to apply from the effective photo__1894482_mclaughlin_nardi_4712date of April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, they may be extended.  Much depends on the current standoff between Congress and President Trump.

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act applies to all employers with less than 500 employees.  No prior employment or employment history with the employer is required for employees to be covered. The Act generally provides for 80 hours (or 2 weeks) of paid sick leave to qualifying employees.

Contact Information