Articles Tagged with retaliation

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depositphotos_26346931-We-have-to-do-something-against-workplace-bullying.jpgNew Jersey employees in the private sector and many in the public sector are known as at-will employees. This means that employees may be fired at any time, for any reason, or for no reason. Employees, however, cannot be fired for retaliatory reason. New Jersey has expansive laws that protect employees from their employers’ retaliatory conduct, including termination.

Employers can retaliate against employees in many different forms. Employers can retaliate against employees through harassment. For example, employers may try to reprimand, demote, or pass over for promotions employees who raise certain complaints or file certain claims. Another form of retaliation is firing an employee for engaging in certain activity.

However, not every termination or reprimand allows employees to have an actionable claim against employers. Instead, employees must engage in certain protected activity and the retaliatory conduct must be the motivation for the employees’ protected activity.

New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act also known as New Jersey ‘s “Whistleblower” law makes it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who object to or refuse to participate in an activity which the employees reasonably believe are illegal, criminal or fraudulent, or violates a clear mandate of public policy relating to public health, safety, welfare or the environment. Employers which retaliate against employees who object or refuse to participate in this type of activity can subject themselves to a lawsuit and significant consequences.
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New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) protects employees from wrongful termination or other acts based on their race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, age, or other protected characteristic. The LAD is a remedial statute, meaning that the legislature enacted the law not only as a preventative measure, but as a direct response to the rampant discrimination in employment that was being observed. As a result, New Jersey’s courts read the LAD law broadly, providing for expansive protection to employees.

Not only does the LAD protect employees from being fired because of their race, gender, or other protected classification, it also protects employees from being fired, demoted, or mistreated in retaliation of that employee’s objections to discriminatory practices that she has observed against other employees. Therefore if one employee observes another employee being discriminated against and the observing employee complains, protests against, or objects to the discriminatory action, she cannot be fired in retaliation for objecting. The observing employee also cannot be retaliated against for aiding or encouraging any other person from objecting to discriminatory acts by the employer.

Therefore an employee may have a valid retaliation claim under the LAD if she was fired, demoted, or otherwise mistreated in retaliation for that employee’s objections to discriminatory acts by the employer. There needs to sufficient evidence to show that the employee’s objections played a role in the decision to fire her (or take other negative action). It is the employee’s burden to prove these elements.
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The United States Supreme Court recently ruled that a fired employee can sue his employer for the harm he suffered from “cat’s paw discrimination” because of his membership in the Army Reserve. Federal and state courts have ruled that “cat’s paw” liability applies in a wide variety of other New Jersey discrimination.

The Cat’s Paw.

In Aesop’s Fables, a monkey convinces a cat to pull chestnuts from a fire. The monkey then eats them, leaving the cat with burnt paws and no chestnuts. A “cat’s paw” case happens when a decisionmaker has no intent to discriminate herself, but fires or penalizes in reliance on another employee’s input which was motivated by discrimination. It is sometimes been called “subordinate bias” because it holds the employer responsible for the discrimination or retaliation of someone below the decisionmaker.

The Supreme Court and Cat’s Paw Discrimination Against Members of the Armed Forces.

The United States Supreme Court recently allowed a hospital employee who was fired because of his Army Reserve service to sue for “cats paw” discrimination.
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imagesCAWQ89PS.jpgThe United States Supreme Court recently issued a decision on a contentious question in employment law , with important implications for New Jersey employment disputes – can an employee who did not engage in protected activity sue his employer for firing him to retaliate against a friend or family member who is a whistleblower? Lower courts had split, but the Supreme Court unanimously sided with the employee and said yes.

Anti-Discrimination Statutes

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment because of an employee’s “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination also prohibits discrimination for these reasons, and also because of an employee’s age, ancestry, disability, marital or civil union status, domestic partnership status, sexual orientation, gender identity, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, military service obligations, nationality, genetic information, refusal to submit to a genetic test, or refusal to let an employer know the results of a genetic test.

Both Title VII and the New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who make complaints of discrimination.
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