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Acting Governor Oliver Signs Legislation Promoting Equal Pay and Gender Equity

July 25, 2019

Today, Acting Governor Sheila Y. Oliver signed A1094 into law, which will prevent employers from asking about workers’ wage and salary history. In Governor Murphy’s first official act after being sworn into office in January 2018, he signed an executive order combating gender inequality and promoting equal pay for women in New Jersey by banning this discriminatory practice in state government.dd News Story here

Whistleblower Lawsuit Victory! Douglass Law Group Wins 2.5 Week Jury Trial for Paramedic Mike Senisch

May 31, 2019

In a 2.5 week long trial, the jury sided with former Atlanticare Paramedic, Michael Senisch finding that Atlanticare wrongfully  fired him after a patient under his care refused traditional treatment. 

This week, Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill into law that restricts the use of nondisclosure agreements in employment contracts and settlement agreements. Cases involving discrimination, retaliation or harassment, including sexual assault and sexual harassment, fall under the new law.  

NEW JERSEY’S NEW EQUAL PAY AND HOW CALIFORNIA PAY EQUITY TASK FORCE PROVIDES GUIDANCE

March 8, 2019

The latest research shows that, on average, women still earn twenty percent less than men. While it varies, the gender wage gap exists across the wage distribution and at all education levels, and the problem is exacerbated for women of color. While the debate rages as to whether the Equal Pay Act is an effective tool for closing the gender wage gap, states and local governments—in the absence of federal action—have taken it upon themselves to enact laws, regulations, and guidance to ensure that women are paid and treated equally in the workplace.

HALLOWEEN IS NOT THE ONLY THING THAT IS SCARY The United States Supreme Court is aiming to wipe out individual rights under the First Amendment.

October 27, 2018

With the start of the Supreme Court’s new term, many people are wondering whether the conservative majority, which has taken a further step to the right with the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, will overturn Roe v. Wade.

 

The more immediate concern lies with the Court's application of the First Amendment. This Constitutional amendment, once an important safeguard for progressive speech, has become an asset to corporations, conservatives and the powerful. The First Amendment isn't suppose to favor speech of the right or left. Arguably, the First Amendment is most important to the maintenance of a democratic government. ... The freedoms of speech, press, assembly and the right to petition the government and seek redress of grievances proclaim that citizens have the right to call the government to account.

NJ Lawmakers Advance Salary History, Wage Violation Bills

June 1, 2017

Law360 reports that a New Jersey legislative panel on Thursday advanced bills that would bar employers from asking job applicants about their salary history and increase penalties for companies that run afoul of labor laws, measures that supporters say would help tackle gender bias and deter wage violations.


The state Senate Labor Committee approved the Democrat-backed S2536 and A3480, twin bills that amend the state's Law Against Discrimination by removing previous pay as a hiring consideration, and S3199, a measure that raises the fines and incarceration ranges for wage-and-hour law violations.

The salary history legislation aims to promote pay equity in New Jersey, according to Sen. Nia H. Gill, D-Essex, and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, sponsors of the Senate version. “The wage gap exists regardless of education or industry,” Gill told the committee during the hearing. At one point during the hearing, Gill noted that low wages are “not an indicator of [women’s] ability to do their job.”

The bill prohibits employers from requiring the applicant’s prior wages, salaries or benefits and relying on the applicant’s salary history at any stage in the hiring process, including finalizing the employment contract. Under the measure, employers cannot inquire, in writing or otherwise, about salary history unless the applicant voluntarily offers authorization.

S2536 was introduced in September and now heads to the Senate for consideration. A3480 received full passage by the Assembly on May 22 and now awaits further consideration in the Senate.“The impact of wage disparities between men and women is pervasive, even following women into retirement,” Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, one of the sponsors of the Assembly version of the legislation, said in a statement after the hearing.

“Because women typically are paid less than men during working years, when women retire, they receive less income from Social Security, pensions and other sources than retired men because these benefits usually are based on earnings.”

New Jersey joins more than 20 other states considering similar legislation, according to the lawmakers, who cited figures from the National Conferences of State Legislatures. New York City, Massachusetts and Philadelphia have already passed laws barring salary history as an employment consideration, the lawmakers said.
 

Are Working Women More Stressed Than Men? 

May 31, 2017

Our latest article explores the reasons why women are more stressed then men at work. Female employees are more highly stressed at work than men, and they’re more concerned about their health and place a higher priority on staying healthy than their male counterparts, a new survey finds.

 Employment relationships are presumed to be “at-will” in all U.S. states (including New Jersey) except Montana. The U.S. is one of a handful of countries where employment is predominantly at-will. Most countries throughout the world allow employers to dismiss employees only for cause. Some reasons given for our retention of the at-will presumption include respect for freedom of contract, employer deference, and the belief that both employers and employees favor an at-will employment relationship over job security.

CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS CHALLENGE USING PARCC TESTS FOR GRADUATION

January 6, 2017

The new graduation regulations require that students pass the controversial PARCC exams to receive a diploma and prevent those who opt out of PARCC testing from graduating.

 

The lawsuit, brought by the Paterson Education Fund, the Latino Action Network, the Latino Coalition of NJ and the NJ NAACP, claims that the new regulations violate the 1979 law establishing an 11th-grade test. Since the PARCC English Language Arts test is administered in 10th grade, and the PARCC Algebra 1 test is given at various times in middle and high school, these tests do not meet the requirements of the statute.

The decision to tie high school diplomas to specific test scores is a state policy decision, not a federal mandate. Currently, fewer than one-third of all states use high school exit tests, and several states have used the transition to new assessment systems to eliminate them.  Many states continue to give tests for diagnostic and accountability purposes without using the scores to make graduation decisions for individual students. A bill now pending in the NJ Legislature (S2147/A3849) would allow for that alternative.

Employer-Provided Leave Americans with Disabilities Act

November 6, 2016

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment and requires that covered employers (employers with 15 or more employees) provide reasonable accommodations to applicants and employees with disabilities that require such accommodations due to their disabilities.

 

Reasonable Accommodation Consisting of Unpaid Leave
A reasonable accommodation is, generally, "any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities." That can include making modifications to existing leave policies and providing leave when needed for a disability, even where an employer does not offer leave to other employees. As with any other accommodation, the goal of providing leave as an accommodation is to afford employees with disabilities equal employment opportunities.

Read More>

Non-Profits Push Hobby Lobby Decision-SCOTUS Returns it to Lower Courts

The perils of an eight-member Supreme Court were thrown into sharp relief this month when the court sent Zubik v. Burwell back to the circuit courts. In March, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Zubik, a set of consolidated cases that pose a looming threat to women’s access to reproductive health care. Following on the heels of 2014’s  Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision, some religiously affiliated nonprofit organizations filed suit objecting to contraceptive coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act. Read More....

The New Jersey Equal Pay Act

April 14, 2016

The Atlantic County Branch of the New Jersey American Association of University Women (“AAUW”) presented a Resolution in support of the New Jersey Pay Equity Act for consideration by the Atlantic County Board of Freeholders on April 12, 2016.


Michelle Douglass, Esq., a local civil rights attorney and the Public Policy Chair for the AAUW, says “that Atlantic County needs to show its support for the N ew Jersey Pay Equity Act (S.992/A.2750) which has passed the Assembly and Senate with strong bipartisan support. Now Governor Christie has the opportunity to stand up for women and their right to equal pay for equal work by signing this important legislation.”

 

Douglass states that the “Equal Pay Act is both an equal rights and an economic issue. The bill will give women formidable tools to combat pay discrimination and remedy an injustice that has gone on for far too long. With a growing number of Atlantic County women responsible for supporting their families, pay equity is not only a matter of justice for themselves, but also a matter of economic security for their families. It is our collective goal to persuade Governor Christie to sign this bill."

I am keenly aware that winter and spring are “flu season,” being the mother of a five year old who attends daycare,our family obtains the flu vaccine shots in order to obtain some protection against the disease. Millions of  people in the U.S. get the vaccine each year. As we well know, influenza, or the “flu,” can be a very serious disease.

 

Interestingly, our office recently settled a case on behalf of our client, Valerie Petrongolo, a devout Catholic, and a  nurse of eighteen years with Holy Redeemer Hospital, a Catholic institution. Petrongolo was terminated from her job with Holy Redeemer after having refused to to be vaccinated for influenza. My initial reaction to Petrongolo when she presented her case to us for representation was: Doesn’t a hospital have the right to require its healthcare workers to be vaccinated for influenza?

In the past, Petrongolo told us, she had been permitted to decline the flu vaccine.The year our client was fired, however, she exercised her religious right to be exempted from the vaccine. Read More.

January 17, 2016

Ban the box.

Removing questions about conviction history from job applications is a simple policy change that eases hiring barriers and creates a fair chance to compete for jobs.  Known as “ban the box,” this change allows employers to judge applicants on their qualifications first, without the stigma of a record.

Will 2016 Prove to Be the Beginning to the End of Gender Inequality and Poverty? We Can Hope. We Can Act.

December 20, 2015

  I look ahead to the new year with excitement because I am raising my five year old daughter with the thought that she may be the first generation to have the possibility of an end to poverty and gender inequality. The unprcedented at­ti­tude of the mil­len­ni­al gen­er­a­tion (those born from 1982 to 2003) has laid the groundwork because they collectively and dis­tinct­ively believe that there are no in­her­ently male or fe­male roles in so­ci­ety. This be­lief stems dir­ectly from mil­len­ni­als’ ex­per­i­ence grow­ing up in fam­il­ies in which the moth­er and fath­er took on roughly equal re­spons­ib­il­it­ies for rais­ing their off­spring. As men and wo­men enter the work­force on an equal foot­ing, this gen­er­a­tion’s be­lief in gender neut­ral­ity will force ma­jor changes in our laws gov­ern­ing the work place and its re­la­tion­ship to fam­ily life.

      This gives me hope.

Want to be More Effective in What You Do? Understand Your Brain.

November 1, 2015

Most of us have no idea what's going on inside our heads. Yet brain scientists have uncovered details every business leader, parent and teacher should know---

“TECHNOLOGY VS. OLDER PEOPLE” SHOULD BE “TECHNOLOGY AND OLDER PEOPLE”

September 16, 2015

Is technology really a younger person’s game? No way. I like my definition: Technology is anything invented after you were born. So why all the resistance by many people over the age of 60?

 

I have become growingly frustrated by my interactions with older people (some may say I am to be included in the category “older people” since I have reached the 50+ marker but this fact only increases my frustration level with my “peers”) and the topic of technology. I am a firm believer that someone’s age should not determine his or her interest in or affinity for technology.

Tech Trek Camp Gives Girls Opportunity To Experience STEM on College Campus

August 10, 2015

GALLOWAY – Building robots, crafting underwater flashlights, coding and creating Android apps, these activities may not bring back memories of summer camp for many, but for the 30 Atlantic and Cape May county girls who attended the American Association of University Women Tech Trek 2015 camp at Stockton University, that was just the beginning of their jam-packed camp schedule.

 

Michelle Douglass, Director of the Tech Trek program, is passionate about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  More specifically, she's devoted to promoting the interest and participation of girls in those fields. In order to make the camp a reality, Douglass, a Somers Point-based attorney, 

Watchdogs Win Big Protection!

August 10, 2015

 Crystal ball lawyering is a gamble, but every now and then I get it right. It is hard to imagine though that the NJ Supreme Court would rule against the employee plaintiff in Lippman v. Ethicon, but nonetheless, I toast to my accurate prediction. On July 15, 2015 in a 5-0 decision, the Supreme Court of New Jersey issued its long awaited decision in Lippman v. Ethicon, Inc., which affirmed and modified the Appellate Division’s ruling that employees, whose core job duties include monitoring whether their employers comply with standards and regulations, are protected under the New Jersey Conscientious Protection Act ("CEPA").

 

 

AAUW STEM Tech Trek Camp is Huge Success First Year!

August 10, 2015

It is the first year that American Association of Univeristy Women has hosted their STEM Tech Trek Camp in the State of New Jersey. It took place this past week on July 19 through the 25 at Stockton University. Girls going into eight grade, from Atlantic and Cape May Counties, were elected by their teachers to attend this week long Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics hands on camp. The camp, having been brough alive by My Rights Lawyers, LLC's, Michelle J. Douglass, Esq., is an opportunity for these young girls to spark an interest in these field, in hopes that someday they may seek a career of it. 

 

 

 

Is Atlantic City Destined for Detroit-Like Bankruptcy; or, Is This a Comparison of Apples to Oranges?

February 11, 2015

The City of Detroit is no longer a loner when it comes to municipalities that are experiencing historic economic hardship.

Atlantic City is also part of the club no city wants to be a member of.

Family Medical Leave to Mom Who Suffers From Crying Spells After Daughter Sexually Assualted

January 21, 2015

 Kris was forced to endure the unthinkable: her daughter had just become the victim of a sexual assault.

October 14, 2014

Don’t feel bad if you have trouble understanding the pay-docking rules laid out by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The regs are pretty murky.As a rule of thumb, FLSA doesn’t permit deductions from exempt employees. 

The Equal Pay Act: What's new?

September 11, 2014

Today (September 11, 2014), for the first time ever, the Senate voted (73-25) to move forward with a debate on the stalled Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 84/S 2119). This debate is long overdue, and what better time than before a pivotal election year? 

Christie: Friend or Foe to Women, Educators and the Middle Class?

September 2014

Christie Vetoes Two Important Bills Which Would Have Advanced the Rights of Women and the Middle Class

Social Security Disability Insurance

July 15, 2014

Many people come to us for help when they have been denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). A denial letter from the Social Security Administration is not the end of the qualification process for benefits.

Governor Christie Threatens Fate of Equal Pay Legislation

June 22, 2014

In 2009, President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as his first piece of presidential legislation. The Act was a response to the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., holding that the statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit begins to run on the date the employer makes the first discriminatory wage decision, not, as Plaintiff Lilly Ledbetter argued, the date of the most recent paycheck. 

Good News for Veterans: Social Security Disability Process Expedited For Veterans With 100% VA Disability Rating

June 2014

If you are a veteran and have a VA Disability Rating of 100%, the Social Security Administration announced that it will expedite your application for Social Security Disability benefits.  Social Security Acting Commissioner Carolyn Clovin stated in a news release:

First Amendment Violation or Lawful Protection of Personal Privacy Information?

May 13, 2014

The highest court in the European Union decided on Tuesday that Google must, in some cases, honor requests from its search engine users to delete links to personal information.

How You Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits

April 29, 2014

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must first have worked in jobs covered by Social Security. Then you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security's definition of disability. In general, Social Security pays monthly cash benefits to people who are unable to work for a year or more because of a disability.

“I Quit!”: Collecting Unemployment Benefits After Voluntarily Leaving Work

March 6, 2014

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s most recent statistics, New Jersey’s unemployment rate is 7.2 percent of the total state labor force, a far cry from its all-time high of 10.7 percent in 1976, but still slightly above the current national average of 6.7 percent. What the numbers don’t show, however, is the number of workers choosing to remain in jobs that are unfulfilling or overly stressful or worse. Abusive bosses, long hours, tedious tasks—no matter how horrible, many employees are afraid to leave steady work to brave the less-than-vital job market. 

Appeals Court Jump Starts Whistle Blower Claims of School Mechanic Terminated After Reporting Safety Concerns

Recently, the New Jersey State Appellate Division issued a victory for employees who report wrongdoing in the workplace. In the matter of Dukin v. Mount Olive Township Board of Education, the Court reversed a lower court decision dismissing the claims of a school bus mechanic who was effectively terminated from employment after complaining about the safety of a school bus and the working conditions in a school district garage.

The U.S. Supreme Court Tackles the Limits of Corporate Personhood and “Religious Freedom"

February 5, 2014

 Does a business have religious    rights?  Last week the U.S. Supreme  Court heard oral argument in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, inviting the  question of whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling government interest, allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the owner’s religious objections.

The Pay Gap Continues to Plague Working Women: Recent Female College Graduates Earn 20% Less Than Male Counterparts

January 15, 2014

he attorneys and staff of My Rights Lawyers are proud supporters and members of the Atlantic County branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), a nation-wide non-profit organization that has worked to promote equity and education for women and girls for over one-hundred years. 

ACA and The Need for Single Payer Health Care

January 8, 2014

Employer-sponsored health insurance plans dramatically expanded as a direct result of wage controls imposed by the federal government during  World War II. The labor market was tight because of the increased demand for goods and decreased supply of workers during the war. Federally imposed wage and price controls prohibited manufacturers and other employers from raising wages enough to attract workers. When the  War Labor Board declared that  fringe benefits, such as sick leave and health insurance, did not count as wages for the purpose of wage controls, employers responded with significantly increased offers of fringe benefits, especially health care coverage, to attract workers.

New Jersey's New Social Media Law

December 16, 2013

New Jersey has now joined the growing list of jurisdictions seeking to regulate the extent to which employers can monitor their workers' social media presence. Currently, eleven other states – Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, and Washington – have social media privacy laws.

New Change to Senate's Rules May Combat Federal Court Backlog

December 2013

Last month Senate Democrats pushed through one of the most significant Rule changes in congressional history. A landmark vote—52 to 48—served to limit the minority party’s ability to filibuster most presidential nominees. A filibuster is a congressional mechanism used to delay or obstruct voting on a bill, nomination, or other Senate issue. The old rules permitted a senator to speak on any topic he or she wished, thereby blocking a vote, until a supermajority of 60 votes could be summoned to end the filibuster. Under the new rule, only a simple majority will be required to terminate “debate” on executive and judicial branch nominees.

New Jersey Senate Bill Would Require Reasonable Accommodations to Pregnant Employees

November 14, 2013

A bill recently approved in the Senate Labor Committee would afford greater protections to pregnant and post-partum women facing discrimination in the workplace. Upon request and with supporting documentation from a physician, S-2995 would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnancy related conditions, including extended leave. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) explained, “This bill is intended to address unequal treatment against numerous workers. This is particularly true for those who work the hardest for the lowest wages.”

The Implications of White and Battaglia: Recent Case Law a Low Blow to Whistleblowers

New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) is considered one of the most far reaching whistleblowing statutes in the nation. The Act was designed to protect employees who report illegal or wrongful contact by their employer. Under CEPA, it is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee—i.e. terminate, discipline or subject that employee to other adverse employment action—for “blowing the whistle”. The Act itself establishes certain criteria that need to be met in order for an employee to be afforded protection. However, over the last several years, evolving New Jersey case law has also provided further restrictions, as well as some unanswered questions. Two cases in particular—White v. Starbucks andBattaglia v. UPS—have left many employment practitioners wondering where this troubling, anti-employee trend is heading.

Mental Health & Substance Abuse; Arguably the Most Crucial of The Ten Essential Benefits of the Affordable Care Act

August 24, 2013

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has created an essential benefits package that will improve health insurance coverage for consumers. The ACA specifies ten benefits to be included in all health insurance plans sold on state exchanges beginning January 1, 2014.     

Social Security Disability Benefits

November 6, 2013

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two programs that provide benefits based on disability: the Social Security disability insurance program (title II of the Social Security Act (the Act)) and the supplemental security income (SSI) program (title XVI of the Act).

The Employer's Duty to Timely Desiganate Family Medical Leave Act

October 17, 2013

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires unpaid leaves of absence for employees who have a serious health condition or need to care for family members who have a serious health condition.  An employer must have 50 or more employees, however, for an employee to be covered under the FMLA.

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DOUGLASS 

EMPLOYMENT LAW GROUP

Douglass Law Group

207 Shore Road, Suite 2.

Somers Point, NJ 08244

T:201-422-5980

T: 609-788-3595

F:609-788-3599

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