Articles Posted in Labor and Employment Law

Published on:

The Kengerski Case

The United State Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently issued an important employment law decision interpreting Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the case of Kengerski v. Harper.

Kengerski filed a lawsuit alleging that he objected to racially offensive comments by a supervisor, and that he was fined in retaliation.  This isdc-court-appeals-district-columbia-building-abraham-lincoln-statue-74985350 not a novel issue as Title VII, like New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, prohibits retaliation against employees who make complaints about discrimination. The novel question in this case was whether an employee could maintain a claim for retaliation when the complained of racially offensive conduct was not aimed at or about the employee himself.  The court ruled emphatically that he could.

Published on:

The law invests law enforcement officers with significant authority.  New Jersey employment law therefore imposes on them a high standard of conduct. stone-judge-778488-m-thumb-240x320-71245-thumb-220x293-71246-thumb-220x293-71247 And while progressive discipline governs the review of disciplinary infractions, particularly in the civil service context, serious offenses can result in termination even for a first offense.  Sometimes these cases are close calls; some are not.  A New Jersey appeals court recently examined these principles in the case of In the Matter of Ruiz, City of Perth Amboy, Department of Public Safety.  The case is a good examination of some of these legal principles, even though the court found that it wasn’t a close call.

Background

Benjamin Ruiz was police chief for Perth Amboy, New Jersey, a civil service jurisdiction.  After being charged in 2014, he was indicted on February 6, 2015 for official misconduct, theft of services and witness tampering.  He was suspended with pay and required to turn in his badge and gun.  He was acquitted by a jury of all charges on September 20, 2016.

Published on:

A recent New Jersey employment law decision by the Appellate Division of the State Superior Court in the case of Matter of Brian Clancy, illustrates the procedures – and some of the pitfalls – of appeals from the removal of candidates from civil service eligible lists.imagesCAWQ89PS

Background: Removal from the Eligible List

Clancy hoped to become a sheriff’s officer with the Bergen County Sheriff’s Officer, a civil service employer.  He took the civil service exam, passed, and was placed on the eligible list.  Thereafter, the Sheriff’s Office conducted a routine pre-employment background investigation, which is normal procedure after a candidate for a law enforcement officer position is placed on an eligible list for an agency.  Based on the results of the investigation, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office removed Clancy’s name from the eligible list.

Published on:

In an important employment law decision, New Jersey’s Supreme Court once again considered the actions necessary to constitute illegal workplace harassment in the case of Rios v. Meda Pharmaceutical, Inc.  In this case the alleged harassment was based on an employee’s racecolumns-round-300x201 and ethnicity in violation of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination.

Background

New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination prohibits workplace discrimination because an employee’s protected characteristic, including the employee’s:

Published on:

New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination prohibits employment discrimination, including age discrimination.  In interpreting this state law, New Jersey courts look to federal employment law, including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or the “ADEA,” passed by Congress in 1967.  A recent case by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit addressed a typical issue in age discrimination cases.  Sincejudge-gavel-1461998219JBc-300x200 the Third Circuit hears federal appeals from the Federal District Courts in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the United States Virgin Islands, the case, Martinez v. UPMC Susquehanna, is binding on New Jersey cases under the ADEA.  However, it is also influential on how New Jersey state courts will interpret the Law Against Discrimination.

Background

Zeferino Martinez, M.D., was a board certified orthopedic surgeon who had four decades of experience practicing medicine.  At the time of these events he was seventy years old.  A hospital hired Doctor Martinez in 2016 with a three year contract; he was the hospital’s only orthopedic surgeon.  In 2017, UPMC Susquehanna purchased the hospital and took over its management.  One month later UPMC’s chief operating officer and the executive director of UPMC’s musculoskeletal division fired Martinez.  They explained only that UPMC was “moving in a different direction and [Martinez’s] services were no longer needed,” and that his termination “had nothing to do with [his] performance.”

Published on:

A recent New Jersey employment law decision in the case of In the Matter of Wilfred Guzman,  Rockaway Township Police Department, examined what penalties are available against a Newpolice-hoboken-train-station Jersey civil service law enforcement officer.

Background

Wilfredo Guzman was a police officer with the Rockaway Township Police Department, a civil service jurisdiction.  Guzman was suspended without pay from April 24, 2017, when he was indicted, until June 19, 2019, when he was served with a Final Notice of Disciplinary Action which terminated him.  The termination was triggered by Officer Guzman’s guilty pleas to two counts of second degree official misconduct.  The Township also fined Officer Guzman the equivalent of 1040 hours worth of pay. Guzman appealed the fine to the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law (“NJOAL”) – New Jersey employment law allows civil service law enforcement officers to skip appeals to the New Jersey Civil Service Commission requesting that the appeal be considered a contested case, and instead file instead directly with the NJOAL.

Published on:

Attaining tenure is a milestone for public school employees.  Under New Jersey employment law, tenure carries legal protections against termination or discipline without just cause, and requires formal tenure charges and the right to challenge those charges through a hearing and appeal process.  Thesebully-3233568__340-300x272 protections are extremely valuable.

Much literature has been written about tenure requirements for teachers under New Jersey employment law.  However, New Jersey employment law also provides that other public school employees may obtain tenure protection as well.  The Appellate Division addressed the acquisition of tenure for school board secretaries and administrative assistants in the case of Saylor v. Board of Education of the Town of West New York.

Background

Published on:

Police officer discipline has significant ramifications under New Jersey employment law, whether the officer is in a civil service or non-civil service police department.  These extend beyond the ramifications of discipline for other public and private employees in New Jersey.  Thepolice-1714956__340-300x200 Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court recently examined some of these ramifications in its opinion in the case of Gilbert vs. Warren County Prosecutor.

Background

Jefferey C. Gilbert was a police officer with the Mansfield Township Police Department, a non-civil service jurisdiction.  He settled department disciplinary charges arising from alleged misconduct during a DUI investigation.  Gilbert accepted a six day suspension without pay to resolve all the disciplinary action against him, with the provision that the record of the discipline would remain in his personnel file and could be used as evidence if he received future disciplinary charges for the purposes of progressive discipline.

Published on:

New Jersey employment law governs the classification of workers as employees or independent contractors.  The classification is important and fact sensitive.  It has far reaching consequences.  The Appellate Division recently issued a published opinion in imagesCAWQ89PSthe case of East Bay Drywall, LLC vs. the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which examined some of these issues and provides guidance for both employers and employees.

Background

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development administers the New Jersey Unemployment Compensation and Temporary Disability Insurance Laws. It collects revenues from employers and employees to fund these benefits.  However, “employers” only need to make contributions for their “employees,” not for independent contractors.  Therefore, there is an economic incentive for businesses to classify workers as contractors rather than employees.  However, misclassification can trigger severe consequences.

Published on:

Some important New Jersey employment law issues were explored in a recent opinion issued by the Appellate Division of the Superior Court concerning the Newsupreme-administrative-court-3565618_960_720-300x200 Jersey Law Against Discrimination in the case of Kazaba versus Randolph Township Board of Education.

The Kazaba Case

Charles Kazaba sued the Randolph Township Board of Education for age discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination in Law Division of the State Superior Court  for allegedly taking discriminatory actions against him because of his age. He was a security for the Board for more than 21 years and had no disciplinary record.  For many years Kazaba was the only security guard, but at some point the Board hired additional, younger security guards with prior law enforcement experience (these were referred to as the “Ram Guards” after the high school’s mascot).  At sixty years of age he was the oldest security guard.  He claimed that his supervisors took a course of or actions favoring the younger Ram Guards and making his job more difficult because he was older.

Contact Information