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whistle-2496555__340-300x200In the case of DiFiore v. CSL Behring, LLC, a former pharmaceutical employee brought an action in the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against her former employer for retaliation in the form of a wrongful, constructive discharge.  In that case, the employee specifically brought claims under the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”)  https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/31/3729 and Pennsylvania’s common law wrongful discharge cause of action. She claimed that she had raised concerns about off-label marketing of products which caused her employer to retaliate.

In that case, the District Court instructed the jury that, in order to prove retaliation under the FCA, the employee had to prove that the whistleblowing by the employee was the sole cause for the adverse action (firing or other retaliatory action).  However, the plaintiff-employee argued that she need only provide that the whistleblower action was a motivating factor for the wrongful discharge – not that it was the only reason for the adverse employment action.  The plaintiff was relying on a prior Third Circuit case, Hutchins v. ABC Corp. However, the Court determined that the “motivating factor” language in the Hutchins case was merely dicta – meaning that the language was extraneous to the decision and does not act as precedential.

The Court also decided that the United States Supreme Court decisions in Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc. and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v Nassar indicate that a “motivating factor” test is inappropriate.  (The Gross case considered a claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) and the Nassar case considered a claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.)  In both cases, the Supreme Court found that the language “because of” in those laws, equated to the requirement of “but-for” causation.  In other words, the adverse action would not have happened “but for” the improper motivation, requiring that to be the exclusive motivation.   The ADEA, Title VII, and the FCA all contain that same language.

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pawn-2430046_960_720-300x209 Our employment lawyers represent many honorable New Jersey employees in disputes with their governmental employers.

The Winters Doctrine

As I wrote in a previous post, in 2012 the New Jersey Supreme Court created a serious hurdle for public employees.  In the case of Winters v. North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue, the Supreme Court held that an adjudication by the Civil Service Commission of allegations that a termination was illegal retaliation (even raised tangentially) barred subsequent litigation for violation of New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (known as “CEPA”) based on the same facts in a lawsuit in New Jersey Superior Court.  The Appellate Division of New Jersey’s Superior Court subsequently held that such a bar applied to claims of retaliation raised in disciplinary appeals under both CEPA and New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (known as the “LAD”).

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police-2122373__340-300x200In 2014, New Jersey’s Governor Christie signed The Opportunity to Compete Act which limited an employer’s ability to ask a potential employee about criminal records in many circumstances. The State passed this law based upon several findings, including:

  • Criminal background checks by employers have increased dramatically with an estimated ninety percent of employers in the country conducting such checks as a matter of course during the hiring process;
  • Barriers to employment based upon a criminal record could affect approximately sixty five million people in the United States;
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whistleblower-1764379__340-300x300New Jersey employment law protects employees who object to or report illegal conduct by their employers.  New Jersey’s whistleblower protections, particularly the Conscientious Employee Protection Act, have been recognized as the strongest in the nation.  The various sources of these protections are discussed below.

New Jersey’s Common Law – the Original Protection

New Jersey’s common law – the body of law derived from prior court decisions – holds that it is a civil wrong for an employer to fire an employee “in violation of a clear mandate of public policy.”  What this has been interpreted to mean in the seminal New Jersey Supreme Court case of Pierce v Ortho Pharmaceuticals Corp. is that an employer cannot fire an employee in retaliation for the employee acting in opposition to a practice by the employer which was in violation of public policy, which in practice meant against the law.

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new-home-2897352__340-300x200The short answer is: yes.

To understand why you should have title insurance, you must first understand what “title” is.  When you purchase real estate, at the closing you receive “title” to the property.   “Title” is the owner’s right to possession and use of the property.   There are different forms that “title” can take:  individual ownership, tenants in common, joint tenants, life tenant, etc.

There are also different uses for land and the rights for those uses can be given or sold, or they could be restricted by prior title transfers.   There can be different owners for different uses: one person may have mineral rights, another air rights, and another utility rights on the same piece of property.  A mortgage lender can have an interest in the property, as can anyone who performed work on the property if they filed a lien against it.  The government can have a lien for unpaid taxes, and the municipality or a utility company could have an easement giving it the right to string utility lines across the property.

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brick-2952711__340-1-300x200Disputes over construction projects can be costly, time-consuming, complex and unpredictable endeavors.  Arbitration is a mechanism often used to avoid these pitfalls by many in New Jersey construction law.  Attorneys from our firm have significant experience in litigating and arbitrating construction disputes.  One of the most contentious areas is whether a dispute is subject to arbitration or whether it may be litigated in court.  Even more complex is trying to figure out which parts, if any, are covered by an arbitration in multi-issue disputes.  New Jersey’s courts recently faced just this problem and issued an important precedential decision.

Construction Arbitration

Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution process which is popular in the construction industry.  It is voluntary, so it can only occur when the parties agree to use arbitration.  In New Jersey’s  construction industry this generally occurs in the contract for the construction project.  Agreements to arbitrate are favored under New Jersey construction law, and courts normally enforce them.

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As the holiday season creeps up on us, it’s good that we have the chance to reflect on what we are thankful for. Here at McLaughlin & Nardi we have much to be thankful for this year.

First, we are thankful for you who give us the opportunity to help people for a living. This is a gift which for which we are profoundly grateful.

Second, we are grateful for the people who help us do that. This includes all of the people who work here. There are those whom you see, such as our attorneys and paralegals, but there are many who you don’t see, including those who do the administrative, research and support work which allows the rest of us to be your advocates and counselors. They are more than just coworkers; they are family.

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building-2603161__340-300x200The New Jersey Supreme Court recently issued an important decision in the case of Palisades At Fort Lee Condominium Association, Inc. v. 100 Old Palisade, LLC, defining when the statute of limitation will begin to run  in construction defect litigation.  This decision is now the defining law on the timeliness of construction lawsuits.

Background

The devil is in the details, especially in construction law.  These are the facts in this one.

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face-1618921__340-300x192Where We Stand

Given the reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault which have been flooding the news lately, such as those involving Harvey Weinstein, Megyn Kelly and the situation at Fox News, Kevin Spacey, Bill Cosby, and Ray Moore, we want to make clear where we stand.

We are employment lawyers.  We reject all forms of discrimination and harassment, and stand ready to fight for those who have been the victims of such reprehensible conduct.

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Wage and Hour Laws Governing New Jersey Workplacesjustice-2756939__340-275x300

The Fair Labor Standards Act is the federal law which, along with the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor’s regulations found in the Code of Federal Regulations, governs overtime and minimum wage requirements.  The Fair Labor Standards Act (known as the “FLSA”) requires that most employees (known as “non-exempt” employees, or those who are not exempt from overtime requirements) be paid “time and a half” for all hours they work over forty in any particular week.

In an action for violating the F