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NJ Supreme Court Issues A Grim Prognosis For Employers Facing Hostile Work Environment Claims
After losing in both the trial and appellate courts, Armando Rios, Jr., an ex-Pharmaceutical Executive, managed to sway the minds of the Justices on the State’s highest court to revive his hostile work environment claim. Rios claimed his direct supervisor twice referred to Hispanics by a racial epithet thereby creating a hostile work environment. The lower courts held that two incidents are not severe or pervasive enough to constitute a hostile work environment and dismissed his case. A unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court, however, disagreed and reversed the lower court decisions.
NJ District Court Gives Employers Hope in the Fight Against FMLA Misuse
On May 28, 2021, the U.S. District for New Jersey in VanHook v. Cooper Health Systems, granted Cooper’s summary judgment against its employee’s discrimination and retaliation claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The District Court agreed with the employer that the record confirms the employee’s abusive and dishonest actions and granted the employer’s motion of summary judgment.
NJ Supreme Court Strikes Adverse Employment Action Requirement in Failure to Accommodate Claims
On June 8, 2021, the New Jersey Supreme Court in Richter v. Oakland Board of Education affirmed the Appellate Division’s ruling that an employee asserting a failure to accommodate claim does not have to separately establish that she suffered an adverse employment action in addition to demonstrating her employer’s inaction in failing to reasonably accommodate her disability.
NJ Appellate Narrows the Road in Auto Dealership’s Sexual Harassment Case
On May 18, 2021, in McBride v. Atlantic Chrysler Jeep, the New Jersey Appellate Division revived a Sales Consultant’s hostile work environment case against a car dealership after the Law Division previously dismissed it in the dealership’s favor. The employee claimed that she was terminated for rejecting her supervisor’s sexual advances and alleged the dealership was vicariously liable for the supervisor’s conduct. The trial court granted the dealership’s motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the Appellate Division overturned the trial court’s decision and sent the case back to the Law Division to proceed to trial.
Genova Burns LLC Recognized as Among the World's Best in Labor & Employment Law by Chambers USA Ranking
Chairman & Managing Partner Angelo J. Genova and Partner John C. Petrella have both been recognized again by Chambers USA as some of the best in the world in the field of Labor and Employment Law.
The Devil is in the Details: NJ District Court Demands Details of Sexual Harassment to Defeat Motion to Dismiss
On April 12, 2021, the New Jersey District Court for the District of New Jersey in Spence v. New Jersey, et al., granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss an employee’s sexual harassment and retaliation claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). The employee claimed she was sexually harassed by her co-worker and that her supervisors took retaliatory action against her for reporting the alleged sexual harassment. The District Court found that the employee failed to sufficiently plead her sexual harassment claim for lack of pervasive harassment, and in part failed to sufficiently plead her retaliation claim for lack of temporal proximity.
Doubling Down on the FAA: NJ District Court Strikes Down the NJLAD’s Prohibition Against Arbitration
Earlier this year, in a matter of first impression, the Monmouth County Law Division in Janco v. Bay Ridge Automotive Management Corp. held that the amendment to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) which prohibits a waiver of any right or remedy available under the NJLAD was superseded by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). In its decision on March 25, 2021 in New Jersey Civil Justice Institute v. Grewal, the United States District Court followed suit and enjoined the State AG from enforcing Section 12.7 of the NJLAD that would invalidate arbitration agreements between employers and employees. This decision represents a significant victory for employers on the enforceability of arbitration agreements in harassment, discrimination and retaliation cases in New Jersey.
Cause & Effect: NJ Appellate Division Rules Correlation Does Not Imply Causation in Disability Discrimination Suit
On March 4, 2021, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Kalim v. Urban Outfitters, Inc. affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of a former employee’s wrongful termination, hostile work environment, and retaliation claims under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD).
Let’s Go to the Video Tape: NJ Appellate Division Rules Video Dooms Nurse’s Age Discrimination Case
On March 3, 2021, the New Jersey Appellate Division upheld the dismissal of a 49-year old Nurse’s age discrimination case against St. Peter’s University Hospital. The Nurse, who was fired after using force to restrain a hospital patient, claimed the incident with the patient was merely a pretext for age discrimination, even though the surveillance video demonstrated otherwise.
FAA Trumps NJLAD: NJ Superior Court Upholds Employer’s Arbitration Agreement in NJLAD Case
In a matter of first impression, the Monmouth County Law Division in Janco v. Bay Ridge Automotive Management Corp., found that a former employee’s claims brought under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination were subject to the arbitration agreement that she signed when she was first hired. The Court further held that the recent amendment to the Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) which prohibits a waiver of any right or remedy available under the NJLAD was superseded by the Federal Arbitration Act.
2020: The Year of the Mole? New Jersey Appellate Division Grants Employee A Second Chance to Pursue Whistleblower Claim
In the final throws of 2020, a former Rutgers employee was granted a second chance to pursue her whistleblower claim. On December 29, 2020, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, in Debra Herbe v. Rutgers University, reversed a Superior Court’s grant of summary judgment for Rutgers University in a lawsuit brought by a former employee who alleged that the University fired her in retaliation for lodging a complaint against her supervisor. In the new year, the former employee will get another chance to pursue her claim against the University.
A Forklift Operator Walks into a Bar
On August 7, 2020, the New Jersey Appellate Division upheld the trial court’s dismissal of a negligence action filed by a leased warehouse worker against his employer for injuries sustained while on duty.
Lessons from Princeton’s $1 Million Settlement of Gender-Based Pay Discrimination Allegations
Princeton University recently agreed to pay nearly $1 million in cumulative back wages to 106 female professors who The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) found to be victims of gender-based pay discrimination.
Court Rules that Employees Cannot Disclose Your Trade Secrets, Even to Themselves
On August 10, 2020, the District Court for the District of New Jersey in Bramshill Investments, LLC v. Ashley Pullen, 2:19-cv-18288 (D.N.J. August 10, 2020) recently considered a motion to dismiss a complaint against an employee who allegedly misappropriated Bramshill’s trade secrets. The District Court denied defendant’s motion in part, holding that Bramshill sufficiently pled causes of action for violations of the Defense of Trade Secrets Act, the New Jersey Trade Secrets Act, breach of contract, and breach of the duty of loyalty.
Don’t Fear The Click-Box: NJ Supreme Court Upholds Electronic Employee Arbitration Agreements
On August 18, 2020, in a landmark decision for employers, the New Jersey Supreme Court released its long-awaited opinion in Skuse v. Pfizer (A-86-18) (082509), holding that an employee must arbitrate her employment discrimination claims agreed to in an electronic employee arbitration agreement. The decision reverses the Appellate Division’s January 2019 decision, which had imposed heightened requirements on employers obtaining employees’ assent to arbitration agreements.
The Best Lawyers in America® Names Genova Burns Attorneys to 2021 Listing
Genova Burns is pleased to announce that six of the firm's attorneys have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2021 (a trademark of Woodward/White, Inc.).
Supreme Court Finds Federal Law Bars LGBT Employment Discrimination
The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) held today that the ban on sex discrimination in the federal employment law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, covers employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender identity.
Is That Even Discrimination? New Jersey District Court Reiterates That Disabled Employees are not Immune to the Effects of Negative Job Performance
On April 13, 2020, the District Court for the District of New Jersey granted the employer’s Motion for Summary Judgment and dismissed an employee’s claim of disability discrimination in the matter of Rooney v. NVR Inc. The Court determined that Plaintiff failed to demonstrate that a genuine factual dispute existed to suggest that Defendant terminated his employment based on his disability.
School’s Out: Third Circuit Upholds Termination of Former History Teacher for Instruction on Holocaust Denial Theories
On February 22, 2020, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s dismissal of discrimination, hostile work environment, and wrongful termination claims filed by a former non-tenured high school History teacher, and self-proclaimed non-practicing Muslim of Egyptian decent
It Takes Two to Tango: Third Circuit Reminds Employees of Their Reciprocal Obligations in the Interactive Process
On March 31, 2020, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s dismissal of discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination claims filed by an ex-accountant of a local board of health.