New Jersey News & Analysis

  • Family fights to keep first PA COVID-19-related wrongful death case alive

    A deceased Philadelphia area man's family recently filed Pennsylvania's very first COVID-19-related wrongful death and survival suit against his former employer—a titan of the beef-processing industry—in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The lengthy complaint (which made claims for negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, intentional misrepresentation, wrongful death, and survival) alleged that unsafe working conditions at the plant (e.g., working in tight quarters without proper personal protective equipment) resulted in the man contracting the virus.

  • What Virginia employers need to know about new pregnancy protections

    During its 2020 legislative session, the Virginia General Assembly passed a slew of measures providing employees with new and expanded workplace protections while also enhancing the mechanisms by which they can pursue claims against their employers for violating the newly enacted laws. Easily lost in these new sweeping measures are the recently strengthened prohibitions on discrimination in the workplace based on pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions.

  • Raft of new Maryland employment laws kicks into action

    A host of new employment laws recently took effect in Maryland. Read on for information on how to get and stay in compliance.

  • PA meatpackers sue to compel OSHA to intervene in COVID-19 workplace concerns

    COVID-19 has raised an unprecedented number of new concerns for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the employers required to follow its guidance. On July 22, employees at a Pennsylvania meatpacking plant filed a lawsuit against OSHA claiming the agency has been derelict in ensuring the plant implemented proper safety measures to address the spread of COVID-19. The suit asks the agency to inspect the plant immediately and abate the current safety threats. Employers across all industries can look to the suit as a representative example of what might be expected by failing to follow coronavirus-related safety guidelines.

  • New Philadelphia ordinance protects COVID-19 whistleblowers

    Philadelphia lawmakers have enacted an ordinance protecting COVID-19 whistleblowers from retaliatory employment actions if they sound the alarm at work. The city council passed the ordinance on June 25, and Mayor Jim Kenney signed it the next day, dubbing it the Essential Workers Protection Act (EWPA).

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Poll shows confidence in remote work. A recent edition of LinkedIn's Workforce Confidence Index released in May gives HR professionals food for thought as they consider the future. The survey shows that 55% of respondents think their industry can be effective when people work remotely. Optimism is strongest in such fields as software, finance, and media, a LinkedIn blog post said. But remote work is a "polarizing topic" in other sectors in which in-person interaction is crucial, according to the blog. Forty-eight percent of respondents in health care were optimistic about remote work, and 41% in manufacturing were keen on the idea. The most resistance was noted in retail, with just 29% of insiders thinking their industry could thrive with remote work. The poll included 5,447 LinkedIn members and covered the week of April 27 to May 3.

  • Federal Watch

    DOL offering unemployment fraud prevention resources. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued updated resources for employers, employees, and states to prevent fraud or misuse in the unemployment insurance system, including the unemployment insurance programs under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The DOL in May released resources that include lists of fraud hotlines and frequently asked questions. The agency reminded employers and employees of their obligations to report fraud, waste, or abuse. Examples of employer fraud include acting to avoid tax liability and establishing fictitious employer accounts to enable fraudulent claims, the DOL said. Claimant fraud may include knowingly submitting false information, knowingly continuing to collect benefits when ineligible, certifying for benefits under state law while not being able and available to work, or intentionally collecting full benefits while not reporting wages or income.

  • Black journalist barred from covering George Floyd protests alleges race bias

    After a black reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette posted a tweet critical of racial bias in the news media, the employer barred her from covering local protests following the George Floyd killing in Minnesota. Alexis Johnson, in turn, recently filed race bias claims against the city's largest newspaper in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania alleging she was being discriminated against for speaking out against racial injustice on her private social media platform. The case has generated much publicity. While the legal grounds for the reporter's claims are questionable, the message to employers is clear: You must evaluate the soundness of your policies, past and present workplace practices, and complaint and investigation procedures.

  • SCOTUS issues landmark LGBTQ civil rights decision under Title VII

    The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision on June 15, holding that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination because of "sex," bars employers from discriminating based on an employee's sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • Disabled employees not immune to effects of negative job performance

    A terminated employee recently failed to establish a prima facie (or minimally sufficient) case for disability discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), according to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The court granted the employer's request for summary judgment (dismissal without a trial) because it said the employee had been unable to show a genuine factual dispute existed to suggest he had been fired because of his disability.