Articles Posted in Discrimination

New Jersey will soon have to design a new test for screening candidates for municipal and county police sergeant positions according to a settlement reached between the U.S. Justice Department and the State. (1)

In January 2010, the Justice Department filed suit in U.S. District Court in Newark alleging that the civil service test used by the State’s local and county police departments discriminated against African American and Hispanic applicants. The test, according to the Justice Department, did not help to find the best candidates for the position, but rather disqualified an unequal number of blacks and Hispanics. (2)

The current test has been used since 2000. (3) During the period from 2000 and 2008, the Justice Department claimed, 89% of Caucasian candidates passed the test, which was administered by about 120 county and municipal law enforcement departments, compared with 77% of Hispanic and 73% of African American candidates. (2)

When a South Jersey woman fell behind on her maintenance fees and her condominium association responded by revoking her privileges to certain amenities, she filed a discrimination complaint. The condo association is now expected to pay $10,000 in settlement of that complaint. (1)

Mary Lou Frisch was in arrears on her monthly maintenance fees since January of 2007. In November 2008, Mays Landing Village Condominium Association suspended Ms. Frisch’s rights to use certain common areas, including the parking lot – hence the problem. (2)

Ms. Frisch suffers from a debilitating lung disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. When she could no longer use the development’s parking lot, she had to park off premises and walk the distance between her car and her condo – sometimes close to a mile. Prior to losing her privileges, Ms. Frisch, who has a handicapped parking permit issued by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, used a handicapped space close to her unit. (2)

It is another in a spate of gender discrimination lawsuits filed recently against large corporations: last Monday a class action lawsuit was filed against Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals and its parent, Bayer Corp., both U.S. units of Bayer AG, alleging the company has engaged in various discriminatory behaviors against its female employees. (1)

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. Federal Court in Newark on behalf of six former and current employees, claims that the company discriminates against women in terms of salary, job opportunities and family leave. (1)

Specifically, the lawsuit claims Bayer’s female employees receive less compensation than their male peers, are denied promotion opportunities and are offered only opportunities for lower ranking positions. Such actions violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and the Family Medical Leave Act, all federal laws; as well as the New Jersey State Family Leave Act and the Law Against Discrimination. (2)

A class-action suit has been filed against Quest Diagnostics charging the Madison, NJ-based firm with age discrimination practices.

According to the lawsuit, the company restructured its sales force in 2008 and since that time allegedly held its older employees to higher performance standards than its newer, younger workers. The suit alleges that the company held its older sales employees to unachievable quotas and that these quotas were not revised when economic conditions faltered. Instead, according to the suit, regular employee evaluations were conducted. Under-performing employees were put on three-month probation. Employees who could not meet quotas were given 30-days’ notice and, if performance did not improve within that time, the employees were fired. (1)

While only one plaintiff is involved with the suit at this time, at least 40 others have expressed similar experiences. It is up to the court to decide if the suit could be expanded to include more litigants. (1)

Essex County will pay $25,000 to a former corrections officer as part of a settlement of a lawsuit claiming the County’s Department of Corrections violated that officer’s religious rights by not allowing her to wear a khimar, a religiously-mandated headscarf. (1)

The U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division filed suit against Essex County in June 2009 alleging that the County’s Department of Corrections violated the religious rights of Yvette Beshier, the Muslim corrections officer, under Title VII when it denied Beshier reasonable religious accommodations that would allow her to wear her headscarf while on duty. Instead, the Department first suspended and then terminated Beshier for violating its uniform policy. (2)

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects individuals from discrimination due to national origin, sex, race and religious affiliation. (3)

A former employee of Sony Music Holdings, Inc. (doing business as Sony DADC) was awarded a $20,000 settlement over claims that he was harassed due to his sexual orientation during his employment at the company’s Gloucester County manufacturing plant. (1)

According to the complaint the employee, Charles E. Morgan, was harassed on a regular basis during his employment as a temporary machine operator for the company. Morgan charged that at least three times during the period from May through August of 2009, he complained to management about the harassment but, he alleged, no action was taken. Instead, Morgan claimed, he was not promoted to a permanent, full-time position and, in August 2009, was given a three-day suspension because of his complaints. It was around that time that Morgan filed a complaint with New Jersey’s Department of Law and Public Safety’s Division on Civil Rights. Shortly thereafter he was terminated by Sony. (2)

Under the settlement agreement, Sony did not admit to any misconduct. Instead, the company claimed that its management did look into and attempt to resolve Morgan’s complaints. In fact, Sony said in one instance it transferred an employee out of Morgan’s department following his complaint that the employee had lectured him about his homosexuality. (1)

A former stage manager for the “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” television show filed a sexual discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) alleging that he was demoted and later terminated from his job with the show because the late-night comedian preferred working with women.

Paul Tarascio of Oradell, NJ, filed the complaint against Fallon and the show’s producers alleging that the producers lied about Tarascio’s performance in order to remove him from his position and replace him with a woman. Tarascio alleged in the complaint that Fallon prefers to be directed by women and to work with female technicians only. (1)

Sexual or gender discrimination is no laughing matter. Last month a volunteer firefighter received a $15,000 settlement for her gender discrimination suit against the Clementon Fire and Rescue Company. The firefighter, Merrissa Garretson, alleged she was the victim of repeated derogatory comments from another firefighter. Garretson claimed that she was told an investigation of her complaint would be conducted, but instead her gear was taken from her locker and she was replaced on the fire truck by firefighters with less experience. In addition to the monetary settlement, members of the fire department were required to attend sexual harassment prevention training sessions. (2)

Simply having leave policies in place is not enough to satisfy the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) if those policies are not flexible enough to “reasonably accommodate” employees with disabilities, contends the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC filed suit against Princeton HealthCare System, a Mercer County, NJ company last month for failure to “reasonably accommodate” its employees with disabilities in regards to its leave policies, which is a violation of the ADA. (1)

The EEOC recognized that Princeton HealthCare does have leave policies for its employees as required under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) such as a 12-week leave. However, according to the suit, Princeton HealthCare does not approve extensions beyond the 12-week leave provided for under FMLA for its employees with disabilities. Per this lawsuit, Princeton HealthCare also has terminated employees with disabilities who did not qualify for leave under FMLA when they could not get back to work within the company’s seven-day deadline. (1)

The second phase of a six-year battle finally came to an end this month when an African-American family was awarded $120,000 in settlement of a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Sea Isle City School Board. Previously, the family was awarded $550,000 in settlement of the portion of the suit involving the Town of Sea Isle City and its Police Department. (1)

The lawsuit was filed in 2004 by Doretha Waters-Rice and her son and granddaughter. According to the suit, Ms. Waters-Rice claimed that her son and granddaughter had been victims of racial slurs by teachers at the city’s schools. The suit also alleged that the granddaughter had been denied a part in a Christmas play because she was African-American. In addition, Ms. Waters-Rice claimed that the Sea Isle City Police filed false charges against her after she complained about the alleged racial harassment. (2)

In an unrelated case earlier this summer, the Justice Department announced that it had reached a consent decree that was expected to settle a case in which Green Brook Township was charged with discriminating against an African-American employee in its Department of Public Works. (3)

Even though New Jersey is an “at will” employment state, the New Jersey State Supreme Court this past summer ruled that failure to renew a contract because of age is against the New Jersey’s Anti-Discrimination Law. (1)

The case involved Rose Nini, a former dean at Mercer County Community College, who claimed the College refused to renew her contract because of her age – 73. Nini had worked at the College for a total of 26 years under several contracts. In the spring of 2005, the College announced it would not renew her contract. (2) According to Nini, this was solely due to her age. The school, however, contended that since Nini was an “at will” employee, they acted within their rights in choosing not to renew her contract. (1)

“At will” employment basically means that employees have the right to resign from a job for any reason and employers have the right to terminate employees for any reason provided, of course, those reasons do not violate other rights protected under state or federal law. (3)