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Sanrdo Polledri

Can an employee who wants to prove discrimination take, copy and dis­close company documents? How does that square with the company’s right to protect what it deems to be confidential information? The New Jersey Supreme Court ­recently offered some guidance on this issue in Quinlan v. Curtiss-Wright.

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Q. I’ve been hearing a new term lately: “cat’s paw” lia­bil­ity. What is it, and why should I be worried about it?

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The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) expresses a clear legislative intent to prohibit discrimination in all aspects of the employment relationship. However, the NJLAD allows employers to refuse to accept for employment or promote anyone over 70 years of age. The law does prohibit firing someone over 70 because of age. This exception was the subject of a recent New Jersey Supreme Court ruling.

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Although the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) primarily has been applied to sexual harassment claims involving employers and employees, a new decision by a New Jersey appellate court recognizes that the LAD can also apply to a refusal to engage in business transactions if it is based upon the refusal to comply with requests for sex.

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Although California, Connecticut and Maine are the only states with laws requiring workplace harassment training for supervisors, employers in other states have followed their lead in an effort to reduce liability for ill-informed behavior of employees, decrease the cost of litigating complaints of harassment and create a more hospitable work environment.

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Q. One of my employees was called to jury duty and assigned to a lengthy trial. What are my obligations to this employee? Do I have to grant paid leave? May I permanently replace the employee if I cannot afford to hold the position open?

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Q. I run a small company with fewer than 50 employees.  I was recently approached by a male employee requesting “paternity leave.”  Must I provide him paid or unpaid leave upon the birth of his newborn child?

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Q. During these tough economic times we get numerous unsolicited e-mailed résumés from candidates seeking employment. Do we have any obligations to keep these résumés on file?

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The rise of electronic communication has forced employers and courts to take a fresh look at many issues that used to be considered routine. The age-old concept of attorney-client privilege is the latest one to whipsaw through the courts.

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It’s a mantra that can’t be repeated too often: Develop a policy, communicate it to your employees, investigate when you learn of possible infractions and, if wrongdoing did occur, punish those who violated the policy. It’s refreshing to report on an employer that did everything right and emerged victorious from court.

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