Articles Tagged with “New Jersey Law Against Discimination”

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A recent New Jersey employment law decision in the case of Rosemary Beneduci vs. Graham Curtin, P.A. addressed when failing to offer an employee of one business entity a job with a second when the two merge constitutes an illegal employment practice under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination.  While the case involved two law firms, it would be equally applicable to any employers.NJ_State_House-300x200


As the opinion explained them, the facts are relatively straightforward.  Rosemary Beneduci was a long-time employee of Graham Curtin, P.A., a major New Jersey law firm.  She had been on disability leave for knee replacement surgery.  At the same time, Graham Curtin was merging with a second firm, McElroy Deutsch.  When the merger was completed, McElroy would be the surviving firm.  All of the attorneys and employees at Graham Curtain who did not leave for another firm were offered employment with McElroy except for Beneduci.  All of them became employees of McElroy except for Beneduci and one part-time employee who chose to retire.  The testimony indicated that Graham Curtin’s employees were hired based on the recommendation of its former managing partner; he recommended all the employees be hired by McElroy except for Beneduci.  When Beneduci emailed the managing partner, her direct supervisor, that she would be returning to work, he met with her, terminated her and offered her a severance agreement.  She rejected the agreement and sued Graham Curtain, its managing partner, and McElroy for violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

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In an important New Jersey employment law ruling, the State Supreme Court held that an employer’s decision to terminate or otherwise take action against an employee influenced by the discriminatory bias of a subordinate, rather than the decisionmakers themselves, nonethelessgavel-300x200 violates the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

Background: Meade’s Employment

In the case of Michele Meade vs. the Township of Livingston, the Court explained that Michele Meade was the Township Manger for Livingston Township from 2015 until she was terminated by the Township Council in 2016.  She was the first female Township Manager in Livingston’s history.  She was replaced by a male candidate although there were female candidates, and when her replacement quit he was replaced by another male candidate.

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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.

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Federal versus State Courts for New Jersey Employment Law

Employees who sue their employers for violating New Jersey employment law most often choose to litigate in state court because New Jersey employment law and courts are viewed as more favorable to employees, while employers seek to litigate in Federal court, because federal courts and employment law are seen as courthouse-1223280__340-300x200more friendly to employers.  However, there are exceptions.  For instance, public employees sometimes have additional remedies under federal employment law, and employees can litigate their state and federal law claims together in federal court.  A good example of this can be seen in a decision in  Chesler vs. City of Jersey City by Judge Susan D. Wigenton of the United States District (New Jersey’s federal trial court).

The Chesler Case

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Thumbnail image for depositphotos_4730220-Happy-pregnancy.jpgOn January 21, 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed legislation amending the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination to include pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions among employees receiving protection against discrimination. The law is effective immediately.

Introduced as bill in September 2013 to combat discrimination against pregnant women and women with medical needs after childbirth, the Act requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to pregnant women and those recovering from childbirth. Accommodations can include restroom breaks, breaks for increased water intake, periodic rest, help with manual labor, job restructuring or modified work schedules, and temporary transfers to less strenuous or less hazardous work. The bill referred to reports that women who requested an accommodation in the workplace to help them maintain a healthy pregnancy or who needed a reasonable accommodation as they recovered from childbirth were being removed from their positions, placed on unpaid leave, or fired.

In urging the New Jersey Senate to pass the bill, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU)identified some examples of women who were denied reasonable accommodations because of their pregnancy. Before the amendment of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, those employer actions were legal. Examples include a pregnant security worker who was denied a stool to sit on at her job, a pregnant cashier who was not allowed to keep a water bottle at her workstation and collapsed at her register, and a pregnant line cook who was denied additional restroom breaks.

The ACLU Public Policy Director also cited a New Jersey Supreme Court case that held that it was legal for a casino to fire a pregnant worker whose doctor instructed her not to return to work after discovering a serious problem with one of the twins that she was carrying. Said the Director, “What does it say about our state’s values that our laws ask a woman to make the choice between doing what’s needed to protect her pregnancy, and keeping her job?”

Employers are not to apply workplace accommodations “in a manner less favorable than accommodations or leave provided to other employees not affected by pregnancy but similar in their ability or inability to work.” Further, the Act does not intend to impact the amount of employees’ rights to paid or unpaid leave under the law.
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