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Newark Litigation and Appeals Law Blog

Dealing with harassment in the workplace

An individual in New Jersey who feels that they have been harassed or discriminated against in the workplace should take a few important steps to ensure that there is a better chance that harassment is adequately addressed. Thorough documentation can be crucial. This means noting the date and time for small and large incidents as well as collecting emails and other types of messages. Once the information is gathered, individuals should not hesitate to move forward with reporting the incidents. As the time between harassment and reporting lengthens, people may begin to question why a complaint was not filed sooner. Furthermore, witnesses may leave the company in the meantime.

Individuals need to turn over all their documentation to support their harassment claims. Corroborating evidence strengthens a claim, and having it all available in a timely fashion allows the investigation to move along efficiently. However, individuals should not expect an immediate decision. An investigation takes time and has to work with other people's schedules.

New Jersey man sues employer for obesity discrimination

The Mountain Creek ski resort and water park in Vernon is the object of a lawsuit filed by a former employee who claims that the company violated both federal and state discrimination laws. The man, who worked for the resort as a food manager for three years, alleges in his lawsuit that he was ignored for promotions and openly ridiculed because of his weight. With a body mass index over 40, the man, whose weight is over 300 pounds, meets the definition of morbidly obese set by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Americans with Disability Act.

According to his lawsuit, he was repeatedly told by his boss that he needed to lose weight. Additionally, he said management did not consider him for promotions and assigned him duties that he disliked. His lawsuit states that he was ordered to avoid paying vendors and find busty women to work in the bar. The president of the resort denies the allegations.

New Jersey landfill company faces civil lawsuit and grand jury

Strategic Environmental Partners, the owner of the Fenimore Landfill seized by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in 2013, is embroiled in two legal battles. One is a civil case challenging the state's confiscation of its property. The other is a criminal grand jury investigation. The lawyer for Strategic Environmental Partners said subpoenas have been issued to company accountants, former company lawyers and other witnesses.

According to the lawyer, the grand jury investigation began two days after the company appealed the landfill seizure in the New Jersey Appellate Division. Suspecting that the criminal investigation was retaliation for continued civil action, the lawyer told to the U.S. magistrate that Strategic Environmental Partners would not supply requested information for the civil case's discovery because the company intended to use its Fifth Amendment right to avoid incriminating itself during the parallel grand jury probe. The magistrate agreed and granted a 60-day delay.

Woman awarded $25,000 in workplace harassment claim

A woman in New Jersey was awarded $25,000 in a workplace harassment claim she filed against a construction company. According to the plaintiff, she was subjected to both sexual harassment and racial slurs throughout her employment at Dane Construction. In addition to the award for the victim's pain and suffering, the construction company was ordered to reimburse the Division of Civil Rights for $31,000 in legal fees and pay a $5,000 penalty.

The plaintiff was hired by the company in 2008 to work as a secretary and bookkeeper. During her employment, the woman says that the company owner was aware that she was Chinese, that her husband was black and that she had a biracial son. However, a state Division of Civil Rights investigation that was completed in 2010 determined that the owner used the 'n-word" repeatedly in the woman's presence.

Insurance company accused of Hurricane Sandy fraud

On March 13, a New Jersey couple filed a lawsuit in federal court against their insurance company. The lawsuit stated that the couple may have been defrauded when they filed their Superstorm Sandy claim. According to the couple, the insurance company used their software to shortchange them out of their sales tax.

The couple was reportedly paid just over $108,000 after their home was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. However, this did not cover the full cost of the repairs. The insurance company reportedly claimed that the sales tax was included on each item represented in the claim, but it was revealed that their software at the time did not have that function. As such, the couple was seeking the costs of the sales tax and other damages. The couple's attorney stated that others may also have been affected, leading them to seek class-action status.

What can be done about sexual harassment in the workplace?

In New Jersey and throughout the United States, a large number of workers report being sexual harassed while on the job. Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination in the workplace, boundaries are still sometimes crossed. This makes it important for individuals to know what can be done in the event that they become a victim of sexual harassment.

Although the best course of action depends on the severity and regularity of the harassment, for many workers, the best thing to when sexually harassed is to report the incident to the appropriate authority within the company. Federal law requires employers to follow certain requirements in the event that an employee reports sexual harassment or the employer otherwise becomes aware of sexual harassment taking place. Federal law also protects employees from being retaliated against if they report sexual harassment.

Suing an employer for retaliatory actions

Employees have certain rights that are protected by law. Those rights include things like the ability time off work for pregnancy and protection from retaliation after reporting harassment, discrimination and unsafe work conditions. Employers are required to respect those rights. However, in some cases, employers could respond to the exercise of those rights poorly and might take against the employee.

The Supreme Court has ruled that employees can sue an employer if they feel that the employer took retaliatory actions. To do so, the retaliation must meet a few criteria. First, the employee must show that they participated in protected conduct. This could include taking maternity leave, taking time off to vote or demanding overtime pay for extra hours worked. The employee must then also show that he or she suffered adverse employment action and that there was a direct connection between the exercise of the protected behavior and the adverse action.

Teacher files court case after being fired over Facebook posts

A U.S. District Court judge has allowed a New Jersey high school teacher to continue with her lawsuit that she had previously filed against her former employer. The teacher was suspended in 2011 for making anti-gay remarks on Facebook and has since been involved in two years worth of legal battles.

The case stems from an incident after the high school posted a billboard notifying people of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. The teacher, who is also an ordained minister and onetime adviser for the school's Christian Bible Study group, posted a message on her Facebook account deriding homosexuals for "unnatural immoral behaviors." Her post brought on enough attention to make the head of a gay rights group ask that she be held accountable. Some people suggested that she be terminated. The results were suspension without pay for three months and her resignation in June 2012.

Understanding intentional torts

Many civil lawsuits in New Jersey are the result of an intentional tort. A tort is any kind of wrongful action that results in a person being harmed in some way. When a person carries out a wrongful action in full knowledge of what they are doing, this is referred to as an intentional tort.

One of the simplest examples of an intentional tort is when someone punches another person in the face. It is usually easy to prove that the person who punched the other person in the face acted intentionally. However, a person may be found guilty of performing an intentional tort even if they did not intend to cause the specific harm that they caused. For example, a person who intentionally frightened someone and caused them to have a heart attack committed an intentional tort even if they did not intend to cause the person to have a heart attack.

The downside of partnerships in New Jersey

Although the partnership is a common business structure due to the ease of formation, there are some disadvantages to choosing this structure. First, all partners are exposed to an unlimited amount of liability. This means that all partners may have personal assets taken to cover the debts of the company. One possible way to overcome this issue is for both parties to form corporations that then engage in a partnership.

In addition, the partnership structure may be considered inflexible and unreliable. If one partner dies, it generally means the end of the partnership regardless of what the others want to do. It may also be impossible to transfer ownership in a partnership unless all parties agree to that transfer. Therefore, it could be difficult to exit a partnership or buy out other parties when a disagreement occurs.

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