A federal jury in Ohio ruled in favor of a teacher who said that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati discriminated against her after becoming pregnant through artificial insemination. The jury awarded her $171,000. The Archdiocese argued that it was legally allowed to fire her for violating church doctrine against artificial insemination. The teacher taught computers for the school; she did not teach religion or Catholicism. The teacher contended that she was fired for being pregnant and unmarried, violating pregnancy discrimination law. This case shows that church doctrine does not trump federal antidiscrimination laws.
Swiss banking giant UBS lost its motion to dismiss a whistleblower lawsuit by a former mortgage securities strategist who said UBS fired him for refusing to publish misleading research. A federal judge in Manhattan found that the whistleblower could go forward with his case under the federal whistleblower law known as Dodd-Frank.
UBS argued that a whistleblower is protected only if he reports illegal conduct to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). The whistleblower countered that he was protected because he objected to the deceptive research internally to his bosses.
Lawyers for employees hailed the judge’s ruling as a strong disapproval of corporate efforts to dismantle the broad whistleblower protections provided by the Dodd-Frank Act. Congress enacted Dodd-Frank in response to the 2008 banking industry meltdown and the $600 billion of taxpayer money required to save the banks from insolvency.
Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. settled fraud allegations made in a whistleblower’s lawsuit that the company sold unsafe drugs while lying about it to U.S. regulators. Ranbaxy admitted in federal court in Baltimore yesterday that it sold batches of drugs that were improperly manufactured, stored and tested. The whistleblower’s lawsuit, filed under the federal False Claims Act, asserted that Ranbaxy defrauded Medicare and Medicaid by charging taxpayers for substandard drugs. The whistleblower, a former Ranbaxy executive living in New Jersey, will receive $48.6 million from the federal government’s $231.8 million settlement. Under the False Claims Act, a whistleblower receives a portion of any money recovered by the government.
All severance agreements contain waivers of any claims that an employee may bring against the company. A waiver is the main purpose for the employer to provide the severance agreement so it can guarantee that an employee cannot later file an expensive lawsuit against the company.
However, not all severance waivers are valid. In order for the waiver to be valid it must be a knowing and voluntary waiver. Whether a waiver is knowing or voluntary will depend on the statute that is being waived or potential claim. For example, a waiver of any rights under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and Conscientious Employee Protection Act must be express and the waiver must specifically mention these statutes in order to be waived. The company cannot force you to sign the release. A company should also allow you to bring the severance agreement back home so that you can review it and consider the agreement. This would allow the company to later enforce the waiver based on your time to consider the agreement. Most severance agreements also contain a section instructing you to meet with an attorney to discuss the agreement before signing. This would also protect the company.
An employee who signs a severance agreement can try and file a lawsuit in court and argue that the waiver was not done knowingly and voluntarily. This will be a judgment call made by the Judge and may involve an evidentiary hearing. An employee should not sign a severance agreement with the belief that the waiver provision can later be challenged. It is a high hurdle to demonstrate that the waiver was not done knowingly or voluntarily.
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently won a $240 million award for disability discrimination against 32 employees with cognitive handicaps. An Iowa jury found that Hill Country Farms violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) through verbal abuse and physical harassment, housing them in a dilapidated building, dismissing their injury complaints and forcing them to carry heavy weights as punishment. They were paid $65 a month (46 cents an hour) — for working at least 35 hours a week gutting turkeys.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a bill that prohibits employers from employees and job applicants from providing social media website account information. The governor said that privacy concerns must be balanced with “an employer’s need to hire appropriate personnel, manage its operations, and safeguard its business assets and proprietary information.” Governor Christie recommended eliminating provisions in the bill that allow employees to sue for violations of the law and that prevent employers from asking about social media accounts.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) plans to file a complaint charging Cablevision with making illegal threats and offering improper incentives to its workers in the Bronx to discourage them from forming a union. As part of the complaint, the NLRB accused Cablevision’s chief executive of illegally telling workers that they would be excluded from training and job opportunities if they voted to unionize. The NLRB also said that Cablevision improperly offered raises and better benefits to its workers in the Bronx to persuade them from forming a union.
According to the NLRB, Cablevision’s tactics improperly influenced a union election last June in which Cablevision’s Bronx installers voted 121 to 43 against joining the Communications Workers of America union.
A nurse in a Detroit hospital sued for racial discrimination claiming the hospital honored the request of a man asking that African-American nurses be banned from caring for his newborn child. The man wore a swastika tattoo on his arm in plain view of the nurse. The hospital, Hurley Medical Center, quickly settled that lawsuit by neonatal nurse Tonya Battle. Ms. Battle’s lawsuit accused hospital staff of posting a note on an assignment clipboard saying that African-American nurses could not care for the newborn. The baby’s father had made the request after he found Battle caring for the baby, Battle said. The note later was removed, but African-American nurses were not assigned to care for the infant for about a month, according to the lawsuit filed in January.
A second nurse is now suing the hospital arising from the same racist request.
Were you recently denied unemployment benefits? Did you receive a notice that you are required to repay your unemployment benefits in New Jersey? If so, you have the right to file an appeal of the decision made by the claims examiner. You will have 7 days from the receipt of determination or 10 days from the date of the mailing to file your appeal.
You should consider hiring an attorney to assist with you with filing of your NJ Unemployment Appeal. The attorney will be able to review the applicable regulation, submit documentation to the examiner, ask questions during the examination, cross-examine your former employer regarding the reasons behind the termination, and focus on the specific issues that will assist you in receiving you unemployment benefits.
Our lawyers will schedule a meeting with you to prepare you for the hearing and attend the hearing with you so that we can focus on those issues that will allow you to maximize your unemployment compensation.
Please contact us if you require assistance with your NJ Unemployment Appeal.
A recent decision made by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found that an employer did not violate the Fair Labor Standards Act due to the employee’s failure to utilize the employer’s time keeping requirements. The employee alleged that he performed work from home and was not compensated for the time. However, the employer did have time keeping measures in place that the employee failed to use when performing work from home. The Court found that this was not a violating of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The lesson learned from this is that employees must follow the time keeping requirements of the company. Despite the employee performing the work, the employer must learn about the work and the employee must utilize the time reporting requirements of the employer. This case is not controlling in New Jersey State of Federal Law.
If you believe that you made have a claim for Unpaid Overtime, please call our NJ Overtime Lawyers to discuss your matter in detail.