When an employee brings credible, substantiated accusations of sexual harassment or discrimination in a workplace, their employer often settles discreetly for “an undisclosed sum of money” and an agreement to keep everything confidential. A law passed earlier this year in New Jersey declares that such confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements are against the greater interest of the public and, as such, unenforceable. Not only does the new law restrict settlement agreements, it significantly restricts the rights of employers to require that employees broadly waive rights related to pursuing discrimination, retaliation, or harassment claims that may arise during their employment.
In a landmark decision, the New Jersey Appellate Court recently ruled that a plaintiff’s claims for wrongful termination in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) could proceed. The significant aspect of this plaintiff’s claim is that his termination was allegedly based on his use of marijuana in accordance with New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. The Appellate Court reversed the decision of the lower court dismissing his claims outright, ruling that he had pled sufficient allegations to support a claim under the NJLAD and allowing litigation on those claims to go forward.
Private employers balance respecting the rights and diversity of their workers with fostering the moral principles that they support as a company. Unlike public employers, private companies are free to enact religious displays, advocate for one religion over another, and openly engage in religious practices in the workplace. However, both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) protect New Jersey workers from employment discrimination based on their religion or lack thereof. These laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees based on religion, both in hiring and during their employment, and make it illegal to force those of faith to suppress or violate their religious beliefs as a condition of obtaining or maintaining employment.
If you’ve suffered from gender-based discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace or endured a hostile work environment, you’re not alone. New Jersey employees are protected from sex-based harassment and discrimination by Title VII, the federal law prohibiting discrimination, as well as the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). You may wonder, however, what kind of compensation you can actually recover from your employer or the individuals responsible for the harassment.
Despite laws prohibiting pay discrimination based on race, gender, national origin, or ethnicity, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), significant wage gaps persist between white male employees and other demographics.
As the #MeToo movement brings workplace sexual harassment into the spotlight, some people are expressing concerns. As some employees speak up about their experiences and complaints, others can feel blamed, attacked, or otherwise uncomfortable. For employers, it’s important to develop protocols for properly handling these kinds of situations and ensuring that all employees have a safe working environment.
North Bergen Township is defending a lawsuit brought by two former EMS workers who claim they were wrongfully terminated after a conflict with local law enforcement officers. Luis Deleon and Tamara Sepulveda claim they were disciplined and ultimately terminated in retaliation for refusing to engage in what they believed to be illegal and unethical behavior as directed by North Bergen police.
Discrimination against individuals on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, and other protected characteristics is prohibited by statutes like the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) and the federal Civil Rights Act. The purpose of these statutes is to protect citizens against discrimination in the workplace, in housing, and in obtaining goods and services, and in many other aspects of everyday life.
These statutes bar open and obvious discrimination, such as refusing to employ or rent an apartment to someone based on their race or national origin. Another aspect of discrimination that is prohibited by these laws, however, is known as “disparate impact.” This describes policies that seem neutral but in practice have a discriminatory impact on a protected class of people.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is prohibited by both New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) and federal law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964). In fact, employers have a legal obligation to their workers to take steps to protect them from all forms of workplace harassment. This includes establishing preventive measures to help minimize sexual harassment and other workplace misconduct, putting a system in place to allow employees to report harassment, and implementing remedial measures when harassment is reported. When an employee reports harassment to HR, the employer has a responsibility to adequately investigate the allegations.
Late this summer, the city of Vineland, New Jersey, entered into a $425,000 settlement agreement with veteran police officer Richard Burke. Officer Burke, who agreed to retire under the terms of the settlement, made claims against the department for violation of New Jersey’s Whistleblower Law (also known as the Conscientious Employee Protection Act, or CEPA). This law protects employees from being terminated or suffering other retaliatory action for reporting situations at work where they reasonably believe their employer or one of its agents is acting in violation of a law including engaging in criminal or fraudulent practices.