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Union, New Jersey, Legal Blog

Woman sues Walmart for pregnancy discrimination

On Sept. 21, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a complaint alleging that Walmart has discriminated against pregnant employees for years at one warehouse location. As Walmart is the largest private employer in the country, readers in New Jersey might be interested in the details of the lawsuit. According to the complaint, the giant retailer failed to make accommodations for medical limitations related to pregnancy.

Modifications of jobs were given to employees who were not pregnant but had disabilities. Walmart also allegedly denied requests by pregnant women for unpaid time off. The warehouse in question is in Wisconsin. The EEOC claims that an employee there requested transfer to a less demanding job or light duty after she became pregnant in 2015, and that her request was denied. The company also refused later requests made by the employee for additional breaks, shorter work days and a chair.

Brake defects force GM to recall vehicles

New Jersey car and truck owners have had to keep track of many vehicle recalls in recent years. The latest recall notice concerning brake defects from General Motors applies to 2018 and 2019 models of Chevrolet Impala, Equinox, Malibu, Volt, Bolt, and Cruze. Additionally, owners of Buick Regal, LaCrosse, and XTS models as well as the GMC Terrain must get their brakes fixed.

Engineers have identified the brake problem as improper chrome on the rear brake pistons. The defective chrome creates gases that interfere with the hydraulic circuit of the brakes. Drivers experience it as soft brakes and unpredictable braking distances that could produce accidents.

Your employer cannot fire you for being a whistleblower

Discovering that your employer is engaging in an illegal or unsafe practice can be frightening. You may worry about the repercussions of coming forward. However, you understand that it is your duty as an employee and also as a citizen to speak out when someone is knowingly endangering others or discriminating against them.

Thankfully, most large employers have policies in place that allow for staff to report issues with safety, discrimination or harassment. The policies may require you to file a report, either with human resources or possibly with your manager.

Age discrimination is paramount for the EEOC

More than 50 years have passed since the Age Discrimination in Employment Act became law. Unfortunately, even with the passage of the bill, age discrimination is still quite prevalent in New Jersey and around the country. Fortunately, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has placed age discrimination at the forefront of their mission to ensure fair employment practices. Experts in the field recommend that older workers who are currently in the workforce or are looking for employment adhere to the following practices to avoid possible discrimination.

The first suggestion is for older workers to hone their skills. Continuing education opportunities allow associates to remain sharp and performing at their best. When employees are proficient at their work, they become people who are relied upon to help the company not only function but excel. When experience is combined with up-to-date knowledge, the chance of dealing with a workplace discrimination situation is less likely to happen.

Age discrimination can be a factor in job advertisements

Many people who are 40 and over continue to face a difficult time finding a new job in New Jersey despite prohibitions against age discrimination. One issue that has arisen when looking into why some older workers have a difficult time finding jobs has been the use of Facebook job ads specifically targeted to younger people. There are several lawsuits currently being pursued that challenge employers' practices of seeking out young people as an audience for job advertisements.

A number of plaintiffs, represented by the Communications Workers of America labor union, are suing T-Mobile and Facebook among other companies. They are saying that by excluding older people from seeing their job ads, the companies are responsible for unlawful age discrimination. While the companies did not respond to journalistic requests, a Facebook executive publicly defended the advertisements. He said that when ads are tailored to reach certain audiences, this does not constitute age discrimination as long as a company's entire recruitment campaign is inclusive.

Age discrimination still prevalent in workplaces

While the American employment rate may be strong, some older workers in New Jersey are still finding it difficult to lock down a job after they reach a certain age. According to a recent survey of adults 45 and older, age discrimination is still very prevalent, especially when it comes to looking for a job.

The survey found that 61 percent of participants said that they either saw age discrimination or experienced it themselves. Furthermore, 38 percent said that they believed that age discrimination in the workplace was common. The survey also found that older employees were more likely to experience long-term unemployment. For example, more than 27 percent of workers who were older than 55 had periods of long-term unemployment compared to about 18 percent of workers who were between the ages of 16 and 54.

IBM sues Groupon for $167 million over patent infringement

New Jersey residents who are interested in patent litigation might want to learn about a case that was filed by IBM against Groupon. The lawsuit seeks $167 million in damages for Groupon allegedly using IBM's patented e-commerce technology without first seeking and obtaining a license from the company.

Other companies, including Google, Amazon and Facebook, have obtained the licenses from IBM to use the technology and have paid between $20 and $50 million. Four patents are at issue in the case, including a patent for Prodigy, an online service that was popular in the 1980s and 1990s.

Age discrimination in the workplace is common

According to a report issued the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, only three percent of older adults who are victims of workplace discrimination will submit a formal complaint to their employer or the appropriate government agency. The report is based on research conducted by the AARP.

There are additional studies that show that as much as 60 percent of workers who are at least 45 years of age have witnessed or have been a victim of age discrimination in the workplace. Ninety percent of those workers state that the discriminatory behavior is prevalent in the workplace.

Pregnancy discrimination remains a risk for women

Pregnant women in New Jersey and across the country continue to face discrimination in the workplace whether through denial of promotions, altered job tracks or even dismissal. In some of America's largest corporations, women continue to face discriminatory treatment despite these being corporations with significant legal counsel and knowledge that pregnancy discrimination is unlawful.

In one case, a pregnant woman working at a Walmart distribution center was ordered to get a doctor's note in order to take a break due to morning sickness. When she sought a reassignment away from heavy lifting work supported by medical documentation, her supervisor called her a "liability" and suggested she take unpaid leave.

Discrimination for gender identity and expression still common

In many ways, our society has become more open about the fact that some people express their gender differently than others. The gender transitions of famous celebrities, as well as many works of art and popular culture that focus on the topic have helped to create greater understanding and tolerance.

However, there is still much work required for true equality. People who have unique or unusual gender identities, as well as those who express gender differently, can still face discrimination in the workplace.

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