Governor Christie Vetoes Amendment to New Jersey Law Against Discrimination

Posted by on Jun 23, 2016 in Gender Discrimination, Racial Discrimination, Uncategorized

On May 2, 2016, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed Senate Bill 992 (“S. 992”), which was intended to amend the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJ LAD”) to make wage disparities among similarly situated employees expressly unlawful. While S. 992 is aimed at reducing gendered or race-based pay disparity, Governor Christie stated that the bill would make New Jersey “very business unfriendly,” and criticized several aspects, including:

  1. Restarting the statute of limitations each time an employee receives unequal pay, and allowing for back pay for the entire period of continuous violation, which is currently capped at two years and is identical to the federal Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009;
  2. Prohibiting employers from requiring employees to waive or voluntarily limit their equal pay protections;
  3. Allowing treble damages upon any employer found to be in violation;
  4. Protecting employees from retaliation if they disclose their salary to a co-worker; and
  5. Shifting responsibility and burden of proof to the employer to justify pay differences, which would be permitted only based on seniority, merit, or objective factors such as training, experience, education, and productivity.

Additionally, S. 992 is substantially similar to the California Fair Pay Act, which was adopted last year. Governor Christie has made several recommendations, with which he would revoke his veto and sign a revised version of S. 992. Some of these recommendations include eliminating fact-based evaluation in alleged discrimination cases as well as treble damages. Governor Christie also would like the revised version to limit back pay to two years, as opposed to the proposed unlimited amount. While S. 992 passed the State Senate by a vote of 28 to 4, and the General Assembly by a vote of 54 to 14 to 6, it is unclear whether the legislature will attempt to override Governor Christie’s veto, which requires a two-thirds margin.

Employers should be mindful of the status of this bill, along with others like it, as there will be far-reaching consequences should one be successful in being signed into law. Hill Wallack employment law attorneys are available to help navigate issues such as these and how they may affect clients in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

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EEOC Backlog Swells. What Does This Mean for Your Case In the EEOC?

Posted by on Feb 4, 2009 in Age Discrimination, Caregiver Discrimination, Disability Discrimination, Gender Discrimination, National Origin Discrimination, Pregnancy Discrimination, Racial Discrimination, Religion Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Wrongful Termination

By: Tiffanie Benfer, Esq.
It isn’t a newsflash to those of us who regularly deal with the EEOC: the federal agency charged with protecting Americans from discrimination is overworked, with a tremendous backlog of cases. The Washington Post reported Monday that because of increased claims and decrease in staff, the case backlog is now at 73,951 – up 35 % from a backlog of 54,970 a year ago.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/02/AR2009020202452.html
This means that more and more cases are languishing in the EEOC. That’s a problem when it comes to getting to the truth behind a claim, because witnesses move away or forget what happened. In this climate, it is essential for both employees and employers to obtain independent legal counsel to move a case along, to secure witness statements, to conduct investigations, and — most importantly — to frame the issues for an overworked investigator.

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Martin Luther King Said It Better Than I Can

Posted by on Jan 19, 2009 in People In the News, Racial Discrimination

By: Tiffanie Benfer, Esq.
As someone who works daily on cases involving racial discrimination and other prejudices, I can’t let Martin Luther King Day pass without comment. But, anything I can say is inadequate, both to the memory of Martin Luther King and to the anticipation of our first African American President. Rather than waste time with my own words, I’ve given you a few of my favorite MLK “law, justice and employment” quotes.
“A right delayed is a right denied.”
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

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Nooses

Posted by on Jan 14, 2009 in Racial Discrimination

By: Tiffanie Benfer, Esq.
Last week, in a post entitled “$1.55 million Settlement . . . “, I discussed cases handled by this office which involve egregious symbols of racial hatred, including hanging nooses. Some of those cases cannot be discussed here because of confidentiality agreements.
Last night, Channel 10 ran a story about one of the cases handled by Hill Wallack’s employment group. This case involves an employee who complained of racial harassment (including the display of a hangman’s noose). This employee has now found that his union is retaliating against him. For a transcript and commentary on Joanne Rathgeber’s TV appearance, click the link:
http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Man-Allegedly-Confronted-by-Co-Worker-with-Noose.html

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$1.55 Million Settlement in Case of Religious Discrimination and National Origin Discrimination

Posted by on Jan 8, 2009 in National Origin Discrimination, Racial Discrimination, Religion Discrimination

By: Tiffanie Benfer, Esq.
Last week, Merrill Lynch agreed to pay $1.55 million to settle a case of discrimination brought by an Iranian Muslim employee who alleged that he was passed over for promotion and then fired because of his religion and national origin. The complaint alleged that the employee was told that he would not be allowed on the trading floor “because you are from a country which has a high risk factor and a threat.” Not surprisingly, Merrill Lynch denied the accusations.
What accounts for this relatively large settlement? From the publicly available information, it appears that managers at Merrill Lynch were blatant in expressing their bigotry. Bigotry that is expressed in more subtle ways is equally illegal, but may be more difficult to prove. Another important factor is that the Plaintiff in this case was a highly compensated professional. When a highly paid employee is fired, the potential for damages grows.

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Layoffs: Top 10 Tips for Employers Who Would Rather Not Land in Court

Posted by on Dec 5, 2008 in FMLA, Gender Discrimination, Pregnancy Discrimination, Racial Discrimination, Reductions in Force, Sexual Harassment, Wrongful Termination

By: Tiffanie Benfer, Esq.
The New York Times reports that 533,000 jobs were lost in November, the largest one-month decline since December 1974.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/06/business/economy/06jobs.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1228507331-YNAOQpjUJ8LVr45LIZgrIg
No doubt that this is a difficult time for both employers and employees. For employees facing layoffs, emotions are obviously running high. For employers, a reduction in force brings many possible pitfalls. An ounce of prevention in the form of careful planning and review of the decisions of managers may prevent many pounds of damage in the form of lawsuits and liability. Here are some suggestions for employers:
1. Take a careful look at the demographics of the people who will be laid off. Consider having someone independent of the managers who made the layoff decisions conduct this analysis. Make sure that employees in a protected class – older workers, women, or any particular racial group – are not being targeted disproportionately. Imagine that you will have to explain any disproportionate impact to a jury.

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