The HR Specialist: New Jersey Employment Law — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Page 2
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The HR Specialist: New Jersey Employment Law

Employers are liable for the discrimination perpetuated by supervisors unless they can show that, before accepting a supervisor’s termination recommendation, they conducted an independent investigation. Employers that don’t conduct a truly independent investigation—including allowing the subordinate to present his version of events—can still be liable.

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OSHA has ordered Metro North Commuter Rail to pay more than $141,000 to a worker after an investigation concluded that the railroad purposely misclassified the worker’s injury and then denied him a promotion as a result.

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Employees who work under genu­­inely intolerable conditions can quit their jobs and still collect un­­em­­ployment compensation. But those situations are rare—and don’t provide cover for overly sensitive workers. Supervisors routinely criticize employees and offer suggestions for improvement. That’s normal and doesn’t constitute harassment.

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Employees who can’t find an attorney to represent them when they sue their employers sometimes decide to represent themselves. This makes for more work for the courts. But judges are beginning to lose pa­­tience.

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Here’s a tip to keep in mind the next time you must terminate an employee: Even if you don’t intend to tell the worker why he is being fired, be sure to carefully document the reasons. That way, if you are challenged later in court, you can point to the contemporaneously produced record as evidence you had a legitimate, business-related reason for your decision.

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Employers can shorten the time employees have to sue by stipulating uniform claims timeframes that cover all disputes. However, you must be very specific about what’s covered.

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What should you do if an em­­ployee has used up all her available FMLA and personal leave and still needs periodic time off? If she has a disability, you may be required to let her take more leave as a reasonable accommodation under both the ADA and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

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When Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno set out to create the state’s Business Action Center, the aim was to attract as many quality employers to New Jersey as possible. That strategy seems to be bearing fruit.

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The job candidate with the most experience might also be the oldest applicant. But that doesn’t mean you always have to pick him. You can use other factors as long as none of them hints at age discrimination. The key is to maintain impeccable records showing how and why you chose the candidate you did.

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Good news if you have ever worried about a lawsuit from an employee who was passed over for a promotion in favor of someone outside the employee’s protected class. While it’s impossible to guarantee you will never be sued, courts generally look favorably on properly run, fair hiring and promotion processes.

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Some employees believe that an em­­ployer can’t legally request a medical exam. They’re wrong.

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Five Hispanic members of the Hoboken Police Department will split $2 million following settlement of a lawsuit that alleged a SWAT team lieutenant was an unabashed white supremacist who forced the officers to perform yard work at his house. The officers alleged that internal complaints weren’t investigated.

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When investigating supervisor sexual har­assment claims, you must conduct a fair workplace investigation, not a criminal probe. As long as the investigation was fair and the conclusion was reasonable, courts won’t interfere.

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Some employees assume that they’ll automatically return to their old positions after taking FMLA and other leave. That’s not necessarily true. Employers are required to guarantee return only if the employee comes back before her 12 weeks of FMLA leave expire.

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Hesitant to fire an employee because of his race, religion or other pro­­tected characteristic? Don’t be. Employers with legitimate reasons to discharge someone generally win cases. That’s true even if the firing might appear discriminatory—such as when the sole fired employee happens to belong to a protected class.

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A Mercer County Superior Court jury has awarded a former Princeton police officer $450,000 in compensatory damages—plus $75,000 in punitive damages—after it decided the borough retaliated against him for filing a civil rights complaint. Princeton officials say they will appeal the jury’s decision.

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OSHA has issued 11 serious safety citations to Troy Chemical Corp. arising from a chemical spill at the company’s Newark facility. OSHA fines will amount to $62,100.

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The New Jersey Civil Service Com­­mission has settled a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice concerning its promotion practices for police sergeants. The DOJ alleged the state’s method of scoring and using written examinations had a disparate impact on black and Hispanic officers in violation of Title VII.

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Just because an employee takes FMLA leave to deal with a serious health condition doesn’t mean he’s disabled under the ADA—and therefore entitled to reasonable accommodations when he returns to work. Before jumping to the conclusion that a returning employee is entitled to whatever accommodation he requests, ask yourself whether he is, in fact, disabled. What counts is his condition at the time he requests the accommodation.

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It’s not enough to have policies in place that let you win employee lawsuits. You need policies that ensure you don’t wind up in court in the first place. For example, simply having a rule that requires managers to avoid sexist, ageist or otherwise offensive words can prevent lawsuits based on perceived discrimination.

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