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Union, New Jersey, Legal Blog

TSA workers complain about workplace harassment

New Jersey workers can face racial discrimination and harassment in a variety of settings, including in the high-pressure environment of airport security. In the baggage screening area at one international airport, a makeshift noose was discovered. As a result, two Transportation Security Agency (TSA) workers were suspended with pay while an investigation is pursued. The discovery comes following repeated complaints of harassment and racism on the job for TSA employees. Officials described the noose as an "offensive display", and it was found in an employees-only area that was closed to passengers and the public.

TSA employees are not alone in complaining about being treated differently because of their race on the job or harassed with racist remarks or slurs. In June 2019, one black worker at a Boeing plant in South Carolina sued the aerospace firm. He also reported finding a noose near his desk and said that other workers at the plant urinated near his chair and desk in an attempt to harass him and force him from the job. He says that after he complained about the racist abuse, he faced retaliation from the company. Earlier in the year, in March 2019, a group of 19 UPS workers said that they also found a noose at the distribution center in Ohio where they worked.

Study finds fewer instances of sexual harassment

A survey published by Plos One found that workplace sexual harassment complaints had gone down in New Jersey and throughout the country between 2016 and 2018. It is believed that the #MeToo movement played a role in this occurring. Women who took part in the survey said that they felt more confident in reporting instances of harassment. They also said that they felt better about confronting their abusers than they had in the past.

The study included 500 women who were between the ages of 25 and 45. Between 2016 and 2018, reports of sexual solicitation from colleagues went down by 10%. Those who are victims of sexual harassment may experience negative career and emotional consequences. For instance, they may doubt whether they got a job because of their qualifications or because someone thought that they were attractive. Study participants said that they felt less shame after hearing others share their stories as well.

The Supreme Court will address LGBTQ rights

There is a long history of the battle between workers and employers in establishing basic rights and protections for employees. While an individual has little power against a company, the basis of most laws focuses on protecting a class of workers from discriminatory actions in hiring practices as well as treatment in the workplace. For instance, one of the earliest efforts involved child labor in the early part of the 20th century. Although New Jersey and many other states have laws protecting the LGBTQ community, the issue is on the October slate of cases for the Supreme Court to decide.

Historically, employment discrimination cases have been pursued primarily under federal law. One of the seminal pieces of legislation in that regard is the Civil Rights Act's Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination due to 'race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." Legal experts point out that, previously, under the Obama administration, the government's position was that LGBTQ discrimination was covered under Title VII as a form of sex discrimination.

Supreme Court rules on discrimination requirement

New Jersey workers who file a discrimination claim against their employer under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act may be able to have that claim heard in federal court even if they do not first file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This was the unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Fort Bend County v. Davis.

Employers are required to raise the issue of not filing with the EEOC with the employee if they want to try to have the suit dismissed. If they fail to do so in a timely fashion, then this dismissal may not be granted. This ruling only applies to federal cases and not to discrimination filings made under state law although state courts may eventually adopt a similar position.

Former banker accuses Goldman Sachs of discrimination

LGBT workers continue to face discrimination on the job in New Jersey, even when they are in high-powered and highly compensated positions. For example, one former Goldman Sachs banker is suing the Wall Street firm after being fired. A leader in the company's LGBT network, the man says that he was fired in retaliation for his claims about discriminatory treatment and homophobia in the workplace. The lawsuit accuses the investment bank of paying "lip service" to diversity and LGBT equality while discrimination continues in practice on the job.

The openly gay former banker said that he received positive performance reviews and continuing promotions for eight years at the bank, a positive trajectory that slowed and stopped when he complained about workplace discrimination based on his sexual orientation. He says that he was subject to retaliation for complaining to the company's employee relations team about a number of incidents in the workplace. For example, he says that he was excluded from a key conference call with a client because a supervisor said that he "sounded too gay." He said that shortly after this report, he received a negative performance evaluation that was unwarranted and unexpected, followed thereafter by his termination from the job.

Can you prevent enforcement of a non-compete agreement?

When you start a job with a new company, you are likely feeling optimistic about what the future holds. You will certainly read over the employment contract, but you probably won't worry about special requirements like non-compete agreements. You may tell yourself that you intend to work for the company for a long time and therefore those agreements don't matter.

However, you later find a better-paying job or the company downsizes and eliminates your position. Now, you're looking for a job that pays you as much and helps you continue to advance your career. The only problem is the non-compete agreement with your former employer.

How POWADA could effect New Jersey employees

Older New Jersey employees who are concerned about workplace age discrimination should be aware of a proposed law that would make it easier to pursue monetary damages in the event of wrongful termination or demotion. POWADA, the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, is a proposed law that seeks to make it less complicated to show that an employer committed age discrimination. Since a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2009 that sided heavily with employers, it has been more difficult for victims of age discrimination to successfully seek damages.

The Supreme Court's decision changed the law so that an employee who was discriminated against has to show that age was the only reason why they were fired or demoted. It is relatively easy for an employer to argue that they would have fired the employee anyway. Under POWADA, employers would not be able to easily argue their way out of a wrongful termination suit.

Workers make discrimination claim against Amazon

Workers in New Jersey and around the country generally cannot be retaliated against for raising valid concerns about their treatment. However, three women who worked at an Amazon warehouse in Minnesota say that they were retaliated against because they took part in a protest. They also claim that the company failed to promote workers based on their religion and national origin. The employees filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission outlining other specific allegations against the company.

For example, they claimed that they no longer took bathroom breaks, broke their fast during Ramadan, and stopped taking time to pray. According to the complaint, this was done out of a fear that they could be disciplined for doing so. In a statement from Muslim Advocates, the women have received write-ups and have also had conversations with others at work recorded by supervisors. Muslim Advocates is the group representing the employees in this case.

LGBT workplace discrimination case going to high court

LGBT workers in New Jersey may be intrigued to learn that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in several key cases concerning protections for workers against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The high court will hear three cases from Michigan, Georgia, and New York in which workers sued the companies that fired them; they allege that they were discriminated against for being LGBT. Two men, including a government employee and a skydiving instructor, said they were fired because they were gay. A transgender woman said she lost her job at a funeral home after she announced her transition.

The cases have moved to federal appeals courts, where several have found that LGBT workers are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans sex discrimination. Appeals courts in New York and Chicago have found that gays and lesbians are protected under this provision, and a court in Cincinnati has done the same for transgender workers. However, another federal appeals court in Atlanta has ruled that the provision does not apply to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Congress introduces legislation to combat age discrimination

New Jersey residents may be interested in learning about bipartisan legislation being introduced into Congress to make it easier for an individual to prove age discrimination. The legislation being introduced is entitled The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act. The goal of this legislation is to increase protection for older workers so that they are not excluded from the workforce simply because of their age.

This issue is taking on greater importance in recent years. According to AARP, employees over the age of 65 are the fastest-growing segment of the workforce in the United States. There are a number of reasons for this.

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