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Total Articles: 25

New Jersey's Supreme Court Upholds Reinstatement of Medical Cannabis User's Claim Under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination

Executive Summary: On March 10, 2020, the New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed the reinstatement of a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by a medical cannabis cardholder against his former employer, after he was fired for failing a post-accident drug test. The holding confirms medical cannabis users in New Jersey have two potential avenues to bring discrimination lawsuits against employers: the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”), and the recently amended Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act (“CUMCA”).

Amendment to New Jersey Anti-Discrimination Law Poses Challenges to Using Non-Disclosure and Jury Trial Waiver Provisions

An amendment to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) to prohibit enforcement of non-disclosure provisions in certain agreements, including employment contracts and settlement agreements, has been passed by the New Jersey Legislature. The amendment could also potentially impact use of jury trial waivers, given the LAD’s jury trial provision. Governor Phil Murphy is expected to sign this legislation into law.

Nurse’s Disability Discrimination Claims May Proceed to Trial, New Jersey Supreme Court Rules

A registered nurse employed by a New Jersey health care system for approximately 10 years may proceed to a jury trial with her disability and perceived disability claims under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the Supreme Court of New Jersey has ruled. Grande v. Saint Clare’s Health Sys., 2017 N.J. LEXIS 746 (July 12, 2017). Summary judgment is not appropriate in this case because significant questions of fact exist, the Court found.

'Garden Variety' Emotional Distress Damages in Employment Matters to ‘Bloom’ in New Jersey

The specific facts presented to the jury will determine whether an award of “garden variety” emotional distress damages is reasonable, the New Jersey Supreme Court has held in an employment discrimination case brought under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”). Cuevas v. Wentworth Group, A-30-14 (Sept. 19, 2016).

New Jersey Employer’s Fear of Employee’s “Ugly Divorce” Forms Basis of Marital Status Bias Claim

In Smith v. Millville Rescue Squad, (A-19-14, June 21, 2016), the New Jersey Supreme Court broadly interpreted the prohibition against marital status discrimination in the Law Against Discrimination (LAD) to protect a person who has separated from his or her spouse and is in the process of getting a divorce. In the case at hand, a plaintiff was discharged after he informed his supervisor he was engaged in an affair with a coworker and that he and his wife (another coworker) were about to commence divorce proceedings. Fearing there would be an “ugly divorce,” the supervisor took the matter to the company’s board of directors, which terminated the plaintiff’s employment.

New Jersey Supreme Court Nixes Shortened Timeframe for LAD Claims

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently overturned the longstanding policy of permitting employers and employees to agree to a shortened timeframe for an employee to file a discrimination suit under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). The case, Rodriguez v. Raymours Furniture Co., concerned the enforceability of a shortened statute of limitations contained in an employment application. The language in dispute, written in all capital letters and bold font, stated, “I agree that any claim or lawsuit relating to my service with [Defendant] must be filed no more than six (6) months after the date of the employment action that is the subject of the claim or lawsuit. I waive any statute of limitations to the contrary.” The plaintiff signed the application and began his employment.

New Jersey Employers Cannot Reduce Employees' Time To File Discrimination Claims From Two Year Statute Of Limitations, Rules Unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court

Executive Summary: The New Jersey Supreme Court has held that employment agreements shortening the time in which an employee may file a discrimination claim against his or her employer under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) are unenforceable. In a decision issued June 15, 2016, the Court unanimously ruled (6-0) that a six-month time limit for filing claims contained in an employment application was unenforceable and did not bar the plaintiff's disability discrimination claims. See Rodriguez v. Raymours Furniture Company, Inc., No. A-27-14 (June 15, 2016).

New Jersey Casino Employee Weight Policy Fairly Applied, Court Approves

A New Jersey casino did not violate the state’s anti-discrimination law by enforcing a weight standard for its costumed beverage servers, called “BorgataBabes,” a three-judge panel of the state appellate court has ruled, upholding summary judgment for the employer as to the policy.

Legal Alert: New Jersey Supreme Court Eases Employee Retaliation Claims

Executive Summary: Right after the U.S. Supreme Court issued decisions favoring employers in a variety of employee lawsuits based on federal statutes, including retaliation under Title VII, the New Jersey Supreme Court has moved that state in the opposite direction under its corresponding statutes, in Battaglia v. United Parcel Service, Inc., No.A-86/87-11 (N.J. Supreme Court, July 17, 2013). Employers who do business in New Jersey should take note.

New Jersey Governor Takes Action on "Gender Pay Parity" Bills

Executive Summary: On Friday, September 21, 2012, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law a "Gender Pay Parity" bill that imposes a new notice posting requirement on covered employers. The governor rejected a second bill that would have increased reporting requirements for public contractors and sent the remaining two bills back to the legislature with significant amendments.

Appeals Court Expands New Jersey Law Against Discrimination

A recent decision by New Jersey's Appellate Court substantially broadens the scope of the state's Law Against Discrimination (LAD) to permit any employee who is subjected to any discriminatory comments, even if the comments do not relate to that individual's actual protected characteristics, to assert a hostile work environment claim.

Missed This New Jersey MDV the First Time Around

I was in Lubbock yesterday talking to their SHRM chapter about retaliation and the dangers of those cases, along with its first cousin whistleblowing, and this headline did nothing to change my mind. Former Warren Township prosecutor awarded $1.26M for whistleblower complaint.

Court Rejects Discriminatory Failure to Hire Claim Based Solely on Applicant’s Own Allegations.

Plaintiff applied for a State Trooper position and was initially found to be qualified after a background check. Approximately eight months passed before a final hiring decision was made, and the State determined that a second investigation and background check was necessary. Following the subsequent investigation and background check, the State found Plaintiff to be unqualified for the position. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the State’s decision not to hire him was based on national origin discrimination.

Statute of Limitations No Bar to Discrimination Claim Where Employee Can Show Continuation of Conduct.

Plaintiff was terminated from his position as a toolmaker in Defendant’s machine shop on July 9, 2002. On November 11, 2002, Plaintiff filed a Charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging religious discrimination based on anti-Semitic comments allegedly made to him beginning in October 2001, and filed suit in the District Court.

Bill to Amend Law Against Discrimination in Significant Ways Advances.

On November 13, 2008, the Assembly Judiciary Committee reported favorably on Assembly Bill (A2292) which would amend the Law Against Discrimination in a variety of significant ways, including:

Statute Of Limitations On Teacher's Discrimination Claim Begins To Run On Date Plaintiff Received Notice Of Reduction In Force.

Here, the Appellate Division affirmed the State Board of Education’s determination that a non-tenured teacher’s discrimination claim was barred by the statute of limitations, where the teacher received notice that her contract would not be renewed due to a RIF, but did not file a discrimination claim until after the 90-day limitations period expired.

$10 Million Punitive Damage Award Against Employer Where 8 Employees Replaced By Younger Workers.

A Morris County jury awarded $10 million in punitive damages against Defendant corporation where Plaintiff demonstrated that a new department head fired eight people, with an average age of 49, and replaced them with individuals averaging 35 years of age.

Employer's Prior Differential Treatment Of Protected v. Unprotected Employees Saves Claim From Dismissal.

Plaintiff, a female radio host, was terminated for making an allegedly threatening on-air comment about a police officer.

Post-Termination Conduct May Give Rise To LAD Retaliation Claim, Extend Statute Of Limitations.

In a decision that could have far-reaching effects on LAD litigation, the Appellate Division has ruled that actions taken by an employer post-termination can constitute actionable retaliation as part of a continuing violation, even if they are unrelated to the workplace. In this particular case, the post-termination act in question was to cancel Plaintiff’s health insurance, retroactive to a date prior to his termination.

Notice-of-Claim Requirement Does Not Apply to New Jersey's Civil Rights Act.

Owens, et al., v. Feigin, et al., A-43-07 (N.J. June 3, 2008) — The New Jersey Supreme Court recently held that the 90-day notice of claim requirement under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act (TCA) does not apply to causes of action brought under the New Jersey Civil Rights Act (CRA).

Dishonesty In Job Application May Limit, But Does Not Bar, NJLAD Claim.

Addressing the issue of “after acquired evidence”, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that an individual who concealed requested, but not disqualifying, information on a job application – here, information about a prior conviction – is not precluded from pursuing a claim under the NJLAD, even if the employer can show that it would not have hired the employee had it known of the information at the time of hiring.

Supervisor Liability Under LAD Clarified.

The New Jersey Supreme Court held in the Cicchetti case that a supervisor can only be held personally liable under the NJLAD if he/she was an “aider or abettor,” which “require[s] active and purposeful conduct.” Although several questions about individual liability remain – such as whether a non-supervisory employee can be held individually liable under the NJLAD – the Court definitively held that a supervisor who is merely accused of failing to respond promptly to complaints of harassment or discrimination cannot be personally liable under the NJLAD.

Proposed Amendments to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination to Bar Mandatory Arbitration Provisions, Prohibit "Abusive" Conduct, Require Reasonable Accommodation of Pregnancy, and More.

On January 28, 2008, a bill (A1898) was introduced in response to the New Jersey Appellate Court decision in Cutler v. Dorn (App. Div. 2007), which held that several sporadic Anti-Semitic comments and pranks made to a police officer were not unlawful under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”).

N.J. Sup. Ct. Applies Discrimination Law, Holds School District Liable For Bullying.

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled that the State's Law Against Discrimination, (LAD), extends to students in a public school setting, holding a school board liable for student-on-student sexual harassment. In reaching this decision, the Court unanimously proclaimed that "students in the classroom are entitled to no less protection from unlawful discrimination and harassment than their adult counterparts in the workplace." In sweeping language, the Court stated that "reasonable measures are required to protect our youth, a duty that schools are more than capable of performing."

Gender Identity and Expression Amendments to New Jersey Law Against Discrimination Take Effect Today.

Employers in New Jersey are prohibited from discriminating against an employee because of his or her "gender identity or expression" under amendments to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) that take effect today. Accordingly, New Jersey employers must make appropriate modifications to their EEO policies and become educated on issues and terminology with which they may not be familiar.
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