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I Slipped and Fell in a Parking Lot – Who is Liable?

Whether you’re shopping for holiday gifts, struggling through end-of-year doctor’s appointments, or picking up dinner, you will likely find yourself slogging across a wintery parking lot in the next few months. Since many parking lots are commercial property (such as those for shopping malls, offices, and other retail establishments), you may be able to receive compensation if you slip, fall, and suffer injuries.

Should You Sign a Non-Compete Agreement?

Formerly limited to high-level corporate employees, non-compete agreements are becoming a standard part of the pre-employment or onboarding packet for an increasing number of workers. In some situations, these contracts—also called “restrictive covenants”—can provide benefits for both an individual and their employer. However, companies often issue these restrictive covenants without negotiation to lower-wage and lower-level employees, for whom they provide little benefit and a potentially significant burden. How can you tell whether a non-competition agreement will be valuable or detrimental to your situation?

Liability for Slip and Falls on New Jersey Sidewalks

There’s a chill in the air, the faint strains of too-early holiday music, and store windows festooned with wintry scenes: winter is here, and snowy conditions are just around the corner. As commuters and shoppers struggle through parking lots and sidewalks piled with snow and ice, some accidents are bound to happen. If you are injured in a slip-and-fall occurrence, do you know where to turn for compensation? 

What Kind of Accommodations Must My Employer Make for My Disability?

It’s illegal for an employer to discriminate against any current or potential employee because of a disability. This means that an employer can’t choose not to hire, to fire, or take other adverse employment action against a person because of their disability if they are otherwise able to perform the essential functions of the job “with or without accommodation.” But what does “accommodation” mean? What does an employer have to do for a current or potential employee with a disability?

Are Dogs That Bite Automatically Euthanized?

Although animal attacks occur frequently, many dog bites happen accidentally or unintentionally. Sometimes, an otherwise friendly dog can get overenthusiastic and bite a human playmate, or a puppy that isn’t yet fully trained can nip at a petting hand. Unfortunately, even unintentional bites can result in disability, impairment, or other medical issues. You may be hesitant to report a dog bite because you fear serious consequences for the dog; maybe you’ve heard that dogs that bite will be put down or taken away from their owner. In New Jersey, this is not necessarily the case. Knowing the law can help you protect your rights and recover what you deserve if you are injured by a dog.

Case #6: Employment Law

Plaintiff Suzy Smith is a female of Indian descent. In 2011, she was hired by Acme School as a guidance counselor. Ms. Smith was very qualified for her job and performed satisfactorily throughout her employment. Around November 2012, Ms. Smith took an approved maternity leave through June of 2013.

In November of the following school year, Jimmy Jones was hired as the new superintendent of Acme School, replacing the superintendent who had approved of Ms. Smith’s maternity leave. In March of 2014, Mr. Jones informed Ms. Smith that her contract would be renewed for the following school year.

The following month, Ms. Jones was informed that, because of her maternity leave, her tenure track had been interrupted. This caused her tenure decision to be pushed to January of 2015. Mr. Jones explained that her maternity leave was inconvenient to Acme School, and as a result, he would not agree to renew her contract for the following school year. Mr. Jones advised Ms. Smith that non-tenured staff was not supposed to take extended maternity leave and that doing so had hurt her chance of continued employment.

A few days later, Ms. Smith discovered that non-U.S. citizens are ineligible for tenure. She was not a United States citizen at the time; she held permanent residence. After discovering this, Ms. Smith emailed Mr. Jones to inform him that she was ineligible for tenure due to her non-citizenship. Because of her ineligibility, his reason for not renewing her contract was now open to discussion. She explained that she wanted to remain employed at Acme School and that she would be more than willing to be mentored by a more experienced counselor.

On or about May 1, 2014, Ms. Smith and Mr. Jones met regarding Ms. Smith’s email and her employment. In the meeting, Mr. Jones reiterated that he would not recommend the renewal of Ms. Smith’s contract for the following year. He said that because he was a new superintendent and because he had only been serving for five months, he was not comfortable with committing to Ms. Smith, as she was ineligible for tenure. In an attempt to convince Ms. Smith to resign, Mr. Jones offered a choice: if she were “terminated,” she could collect benefits, but he would not give her a recommendation for future employment. Alternatively, if she resigned, she would not be able to collect benefits, but he would provide a recommendation wherever she applied.

Mr. Jones then stated that the real reason Ms. Jones’ was not being renewed was that she had been out on maternity leave the prior year. Then, he said that it was because Ms. Smith is “culturally different” and that she did not grasp the “dysfunctionality of Americanism.” Perhaps realizing that his remarks were insensitive, Mr. Jones offered another reason: there had been six complaints by parents about Ms. Smith—although Ms. Smith had never been told about any complaints before. Ms. Smith responded that she was had not been given the opportunity to resolve any issues or complaints, and asked “what the real reason” was for her termination. Mr. Jones dismissed Ms. Smith’s concerns, rudely cut her off, and told her that the meeting was over.

Ms. Smith interviewed for a position at another school in or around June 2014. She was strongly recommended for the job by the counselor at that school who was scheduled to go on maternity leave. Though Ms. Smith thought that the interview had gone very well, she did not hear back for several weeks. When she inquired about the status of her application, she was informed that Mr. Jones had given her a poor reference and told the district not to hire her. She was left unemployed with no benefits—despite Mr. Jones’ statements when she left Acme School. Mr. Jones admitted to telling the district that they should hire another candidate. She did not get the job.

In response to Mr. Jones’ interference with Ms. Smith’s job search, Ms. Smith filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, calling into question Mr. Jones’ behavior toward Ms. Smith during her employment at Acme School. In response, Mr. Jones continued to interfere and retaliate against Ms. Smith.

In or around July 2015, Ms. Smith interviewed with another public school. She had been highly recommended by someone who was resigning from the school and had been employed there for more than six years. Ms. Smith explained to the assistant principal of the school that she and Mr. Jones had not worked together very long and that they did not part on the best terms. She suggested that the assistant principal check with any of her other supervisors, who were more than likely to provide a positive recommendation.

After the interview, Ms. Smith was told she would hear back with a decision within two weeks. However, she never received any communication from the school, causing her to suspect that Mr. Jones had interfered with her interview process at this school as well.

Suzy Smith sued Jimmy Jones and Acme School for violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, alleging discrimination based on sex, pregnancy, and national origin and intentional interference with her prospective economic advantage.

If an employer has taken adverse action against you based on your sex, national origin, pregnancy, or other prohibited reason, an experienced employment attorney can help you enforce your rights. Contact the Mark Law Firm to discuss the facts of your New Jersey employment law case and how we can help.

Case #4: Age Discrimination Harassment

Plaintiff Suzy Smith was hired as a front-of-the-house manager at Acme Corp. Prior to her employment, she had suffered injuries to her ankle, making it difficult for her to walk long distances. As a result, she had a permanent handicapped parking permit.

From the time of her hiring at Acme Corp, Ms. Smith endured harassment from her co-workers because of her disability, age, and race. Her supervisor, Jimmy Jones, referred to her as “old woman,” “old woman Suzy,” or “liver spots.” Ms. Smith often got comments such as, “Well, you’re old. Of course you don’t remember that.” When she complained to her general manager and to her senior manager, she was told that “this is just the way things are” and that she needed to “deal with it.”

Suzy Smith also faced harassment from the back of the house, as the cooks in the kitchen would often make comments to Ms. Smith, too, asking if she had a “hearing problem,” or if she was “too old to hear properly.” Ms. Smith complained again, and the kitchen staff was merely told to “stop harassing” her. No disciplinary action was taken against any of the kitchen staff.

Ms. Smith made a formal complaint to Acme Corp about the negative comments made towards her by other workers about her age. A human resources representative advised her that they had completed an investigation into the matter and that there was a remedy, but would not tell Ms. Smith what action had actually been taken.

The kitchen workers continued to harass Ms. Smith about her use of the handicapped parking spot in front of the building. They scolded her for “cheating the system,” claiming that there was “nothing wrong with [her].” She made it clear to the executive chef that these actions offended her, but the chef never took action to reprimand his staff.

The most vocal kitchen staff member referred to Ms. Smith as “gay.” Ms. Smith complained once more about the harassment, but still, no action was taken. A few months later, the kitchen staff member threatened and then assaulted Ms. Smith by kicking her injured ankle, yelling, “I told you not to park in the handicapped spot!” When Ms. Smith escaped from the kitchen staff member, he called back to her, “I didn’t know anything was really wrong with you.”

Following the incident, Ms. Smith had to take three sick days because she was in fear of another assault. When Ms. Smith returned to work, the kitchen staff yelled at her, “We’re going to get you, Whitey!” as soon as she entered the kitchen. Ms. Smith, terrified by the comment, immediately left the premises and told her supervisor, Jimmy Jones, that it was not safe for her to continue to work at Acme Corp.

Suzy Smith sued Jimmy Jones, Acme Corp, and the kitchen staff member for violating the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Her claims included discrimination based on disability or perceived disability and age, harassment and the creation of a hostile work environment based on age and perceived sexual orientation, retaliation for making lawful complaints, negligent supervision and hiring employees, and assault and battery.

If your employer has ignored your reports of harassment and discrimination in the workplace, or worse, retaliated against you for making them in the first place, an experienced employment attorney can help you figure out how best to assert your rights. Contact the Mark Law Firm to discuss the facts of your employment case and discuss your legal options.

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