All posts by David Kaplan

Types of Job Discrimination for Immigrants in New Jersey

Discrimination in the workplace is illegal and wrong. It can be defined as unfair and unfavorable treatment due to a person’s race, status, gender, sex, religion, origin, etc. Discrimination can be either subtle or obvious. Luckily, there are both federal and state laws against this kind of discrimination including the Immigration and National Act (NIA) and the New Jersey Law of Discrimination. If you’re an immigrant, whether documented or undocumented, in New Jersey, you should be aware of your options about New Jersey workplace discrimination if you’ve ever faced it.

 

Job Application Process Discrimination

The job application process is one place where you might face discrimination- oftentimes subtly. For example, in New Jersey, an IT staffing company based in Basking Ridge was caught by the federal government engaging in improper hiring practices. You can read more in-depth about it here on this Patch.com report. Collabera, the IT company, violated the Immigration and National Act (INA) which states that job applicants can choose which valid documents to present to demonstrate they can work in the U.S. Collabera broke this by requesting more and different documents than necessary in order for the prospective employee’s to prove work authorization. In the end, Collabera paid nearly $90,000 the worker who was affected and the United States. 

 

Age Discrimination

Age discrimination involves treating an applicant or employee less favorably due to his or her age. There is an age discrimination in employment act (ADEA) which forbids discrimination against people who are 40 or older. When both the victim and perpetrator are above the age of 40, it can be deemed discrimination under the ADEA. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NLAD) recently expanded its age discrimination protections in 2021. One way that the law has expanded is that businesses in New Jersey are now unable to refuse hire or promote any applicant or employee over 70 years old. Because of this expansion, businesses should expect more NJLAD claims. Immigrants might be more subject to other types of discrimination, such as age and language discrimination, due to certain factors such as intersectionality, so it’s important to know and understand the different laws that can be used to protect you.

 

Language Discrimination

Language discrimination in the workplace occurs when employees or applicants are receiving unjust treatment for the language they speak or even how they talk, including accents they may have. One example of when a person might be experiencing workplace discrimination is when the workplace has a “speak English only policy” even though that is not their primary language. In both federal and state law, language discrimination is considered illegal and a claim can be filed for workplace discrimination.

 

In Conclusion

There are more types of workplace discrimination as well, including gender, race, ancestry, and more. In New Jersey, you will be able to fight against workplace discrimination through the INA, as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This act prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. You can learn more about this act here. It is also possible to file a claim under state law. The New Jersey Law of Discrimination prohibits discrimination based on national origin, nationality or ancestry. One example would be if your construction employer has anti-immigrant policies that disproportionately harm immigrant workers from Mexico and Central America. It is unfair and unjust that anyone should have to face discrimination in the workplace. If you think you faced workplace discrimination either in the workplace or during the hiring process, reach out to me and I can help you figure out your next steps.

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Workplace Safety Protocols During a Crisis

Workplace Safety Protocols During a Crisis

When Covid-19 first hit New Jersey, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 192 in order to combat rising case numbers. EO 192 mandates specific health and safety standards to protect workers and customers during the pandemic. This past year, we have learned just how important it is to have consistent workplace safety protocols during a crisis. While it is important to keep certain businesses operating during a crisis, it is equally important to keep New Jersey residents safe and comfortable at work. 

If you have been required to physically show up at your workplace during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is imperative that you understand the safety standards your employer is required to provide you. Below, we will discuss the details of Executive Order 192 so you can know if your rights have been violated. Then, we will touch on when it is appropriate to hire a lawyer. 

Applicability and Exceptions

EO 192 applies to every business, non-profit, and governmental or educational entity that the Order collectively defines as “employer”. In other words, most employers are subject to EO 192. There are, however, a few exceptions. First responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, healthcare personnel, court personnel, law enforcement, corrections personnel, hazardous material responders, transit workers, child protection personnel, child welfare personnel, housing or shelter personnel, military employees, and governmental employees engaged in emergency response activities do not have to follow the protocol requirements of EO 192 if the requirements actively interfere with their operational duties. Furthermore, the protocol requirements of the Order do not apply to the Federal Government or to religious institutions if the requirements, “would prohibit the free exercise of religion.” 

Protocol Requirements

  1. Individuals at the worksite must maintain, at least, six feet distance from others as much as possible. If it is not possible to maintain six feet of distance, employers must ensure all employees wear face masks. Employers must also install physical barriers between work stations wherever possible. 
  2. Individuals entering the worksite must wear cloth or disposable face masks while on the premises. Exceptions include children under the age of 2 or if it is impracticable for an individual to wear a face mask. For example, if the individual is eating, drinking, or the service provided cannot be performed while the individual wears a mask. 
  3. Employers may permit employees to remove their face masks when they are situated at their work station and more than six feet away from others. Employers may also allow employees to remove their face masks if they are alone in the office. 
  4. Employers must make face masks available to their employees, at the employer’s expense. 
  5.  Employers may deny entry to employees who refuse to wear a face covering, except when doing so would violate state or federal law. Employers can require employees to provide medical documentation supporting claims that they are unable to wear a mask due to a disability. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and/or New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), employers may be required to undergo an interactive process to determine if reasonable accommodations can be provided to the employee. 
  6. Likewise, employers may deny entry to customers or any visitors who refuse to wear a face covering, except when doing so would violate state or federal law. The employer may be required to provide a customer or visitor who declines to wear a face mask due to a disability reasonable accommodation compliant with ADA and NJLAD. If accommodations would pose an undue hardship on the employer’s operations, they may be excused from providing accommodations. 
  7. If a customer refuses to wear a mask, neither the employer nor employees can require a customer or visitor to produce medical documentation verifying their stated condition unless otherwise required by state or federal law. 
  8. Employers must provide sanitization materials to employees, customers, and visitors at no additional cost. 
  9. Employers must ensure that employees are practicing regular hand hygiene, especially when employees are interacting with the public. Employers must provide employees with adequate break times for repeated hand washing throughout the day, as well as access to adequate handwashing facilities. 
  10. High-touch areas must be regularly cleaned and disinfected. 
  11. Prior to each shift, employees must go through a daily health screening in accordance with the CDC guidelines. This may include temperature checks, visual symptom checking, self-assessment checklists, and/or health questionnaires. 
  12. Employers must immediately separate and send home employees who appear to have symptoms. Then, all other employees should be promptly notified of any exposure to Covid-19 in the workplace. Any notifications should be consistent with the confidentiality requirements of the Anti Discrimination Act and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 
  13. If/when an employee at the worksite has been diagnosed with Covid-19, the worksite must be cleaned and disinfected in accordance with CDC guidelines. 
  14. Employers must continue to follow cleaning and safety guidelines issued by the New Jersey Department of Health, the CDC, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 

Training and Non-Compliance

The Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor (NJDOL) is directed by EO 192 to, “provide compliance and safety training for employees and employers.” This training is to inform workers of their rights and businesses of their obligations under EO 192. Furthermore, the Department of Health (DOH) and NJDOL are required by EO 192 to establish a process for intake and investigation of complaints regarding workplace safety during the pandemic. Violations of this Order by employers can result in potential worksite closure, fines, or other penalties. The exact penalty measures for non-compliance are not fully outlined in EO 192. 

Need a Lawyer to help you with workplace safety protocols during a crisis?

If your employer has failed to comply with the requirements of EO 192, you are encouraged to file a health and safety complaint through New Jersey’s Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health (PEOSH) system. It may also benefit you to speak with an attorney. Because the requirements of EO 192 are fairly new, and interplay with previous Executive Orders, it can be difficult to understand your legal rights in the face of non-compliance. David Kaplan, attorney at law, has dedicated his 30+ year career to helping those who have had their rights infringed upon. He understands the extra pressures of working during a pandemic and believes every employee deserves to feel safe and cared for by their employer. David provides a free initial consultation so you can discuss the specifics of your case and the appropriate next steps for you to take. To learn more, visit David Kaplan’s website

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Expansion of the NJ WARN Act

Expansion of the NJ WARN Act

At the beginning of 2020, Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey signed Senate Bill 3170. This senate bill significantly modified and amended the NJ WARN Act. Now, with the expansion of the NJ WARN Act, New Jersey is the first state in the nation to require severance pay for mass layoffs. For employers, this means it is now much more expensive to conduct a large-scale company reduction or facility closures. Fortunately for New Jersey employees, this act provides a substantial safety net in the face of mass company layoffs. Below, we will dive into a few of the major amendments made to the NJ WARN Act. Furthermore, we will discuss what the act means for employees and when to seek legal assistance if your rights under the NJ WARN Act have been violated. 

New Requirements

The rules and regulations included in the NJ WARN Act apply more to employers. Although, it is important as an employee to also have an understanding of the WARN Act and your rights as an employee under the act. There are two requirements every New Jersey employee should remember about the WARN Act: the notice period and the right to severance pay. 

Expanded Notice Period

The NJ WARN Act originally stated that employers were required to give employees 60 days advance notice of a mass layoff. The amendments increase this required notice period from 60 days to 90 days. Meaning, an employer must give 90 days of advanced notice to employees regarding a mass layoff. 

 

Severance Guaranteed 

As mentioned above, New Jersey is the first state in the nation to require employers to pay severance to employees who experience job loss by a mass layoff, transfer of operations, or termination of operations. Previously, employers were only required to pay severance if they failed to give employees the proper advance notice. Now, even if employees are given adequate notice, they are entitled to one week of severance pay for every full year they were employed by the company. Moreover, if employers fail to give their employees the full 90 days advance notice, they must provide an additional 4 weeks of severance pay. Meaning, if your employer did not give you 90 days advance notice of a mass layoff, you are entitled to 4 weeks of severance plus one week of severance for every year you worked with the company. 

 

What it Means for Employees

Essentially, the WARN Act provides employees with a more reliable safety net if they ever face a mass layoff. The guaranteed severance and longer notice period mean employees will have more time to search for a new job and get their finances in order before being let go. Extra time and financial security to plan for the future may help to alleviate some of the stress associated with being laid off. Also, the WARN Act makes it harder for employers to waive employee’s rights to severance pay. Under the amendments to the WARN Act, employees must have state or court approval to waive their rights to severance. The addition of this rule makes it harder for employers to require employees to waive their rights to severance as a condition of employment. 

Lastly, it is important to note that all layoffs due to Covid-19 are not included under the WARN Act. There is an amendment to the WARN Act that states a “mass layoff” shall not include a mass layoff made necessary because of a national emergency, fire, flood, natural disaster, an act of war, civil disorder, or industrial sabotage. This amendment works to protect employers from further financial strain in difficult times. 

 

Need a Lawyer?

As a New Jersey employee, has your company blindsided you with a mass layoff? Were you given the full 90 day advance notice? Maybe most importantly, did your company fail to pay you adequate severance after a mass layoff? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to contact an attorney. David Kaplan, attorney at law, provides his clients with a free initial consultation so you can discuss the details of your case with a professional and decide what the next best step is for your specific situation. With over 30 years of experience, David Kaplan is dedicated and passionate about helping those who have had their rights infringed upon. Handling each case personally, David promises to fight hard for the justice you deserve. For more information about David Kaplan’s work, or to book an appointment, visit his website

 

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New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act

New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act

In 2018, Governor Phil Murphy, of New Jersey, signed the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act (Equal Pay Act). The Equal Pay Act has been described as, “the most sweeping equal pay legislation in the nation.” Essentially, the act expands upon equal pay protections in relation to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). The LAD prohibits discrimination and harassment based on actual or percieved race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, and other protected characteristics. Therefore, the Equal Pay Act prohibits an employer from paying any member of an LAD-protected class less than an employee who is not a member of a LAD-protected class for substantially similar work. Ultimately, the protections under New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act extend beyond the pay-disparities between genders. Continue reading to get to know New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act and what it means for employers and employees. 

 

Changes to the Law Against Discrimination

The Equal Pay Act made numerous changes to the LAD in order to further reduce and eliminate pay disparities based on all categories of protected characteristics. Below, we will discuss a few of the main changes. Click here for further information regarding the changes to the LAD. 

 

Remedies for Violations 

First, the Equal Pay Act expanded remedies for pay discrimination. The LAD already prohibited employers from discriminating, in terms of compensation, based on protected characteristics. However, under the LAD, employees who successfully proved pay discrimination could only recover up to two years of back pay. Now, under the Equal Pay Act, employees who successfully prove their claim of pay discrimination can recover up to six years of back pay. In order to recover all six years of back pay, the employee must show that the discrimination they faced was continuous and that the most recent violation occured within the LAD’s two-year statute of limitations. In other words, the employee has two years from the date of the most recent act of discrimination to file a claim. 

 

Substantially Similar Work

The caveat of the Equal Pay Act is that an employer cannot pay a member of a LAD-protected class less than a non-member for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort and responsibility. Substantially similar work does not mean the two jobs must be identical. Rather, it means the two jobs require a similar degree of skill, effort, and responsibility. Also, to clarify, rate of pay or compensation includes benefits. If a member of a protected class proves that they are being compensated less than a non-LAD protected class member, the employer is liable. There are only two ways an employer can waive liability. First, an employer can prove that the pay difference was actually due to a seniority or merit system. Next, if an employer can prove the following five statements are true, then they can also waive liability. 

  1. The pay differential is based on a more legitimate factor than an employee’s protected class characteristics. For example, some more legitimate factors may include, training, education or experience, or the quantity or quality of production. 
  2. The factor or factors are not based on, nor do they perpetuate, differences in compensation based on sex or any other characteristic of a protected class. 
  3. Each factor is applied reasonably. 
  4. One or more of the factors account for the entire difference in wages. 
  5. The factors are job-related, in relation to the position in question and based on business necessity. If a factor is based on business necessity, it will not apply if it can be demonstrated that there are alternative business practices that would serve the same purpose without producing a difference in pay. 

 

Anti-Retaliation Provisions

The Equal Pay Act also increased the regulations that are intended to prevent employers from retaliating against employees. The LAD already prohibits retaliation against any person who opposed any forbidden acts or practices under the LAD. Furthermore, the LAD protects employees who filed a complaint, testified, or assisted in any proceeding under the LAD. Now, in addition, employees who seek legal advice regarding their rights, share relevant information with legal counsel, or share information with a government entity are fully protected from retaliation under the Equal Pay Act. 

Moreover, the Equal Pay Act allows employees to request, discuss, and disclose certain information without fear of retaliation. Employees can now request information regarding a job title or the compensation of fellow employees or former employees. They can also ask about the gender, race, ethnicity, military status, or national origin of those fellow and former employees. The information they receive can be discussed with any other fellow or former employee, a lawyer from whom the employee seeks legal advice, or any government agency. An employee can request this information even if it is not related to an equal-pay claim. Lastly, the Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from requiring their employees to waive their right to make any such requests or disclosures.  

 

Who is Covered?

Covered Employees

Nearly all New Jersey employees are covered by the Equal Pay Act. This includes part-time, full-time, seasonal, per-diem, and temporary employees. Additionally, the Equal Pay Act applies to all state, county, and municipal employees. Finally, employees who live outside of New Jersey can still claim under the Equal Pay Act if they have a primary place of work in New Jersey. If you are, however, employed in the domestic service of any person the Equal Pay Act does not apply. The Equal Pay Act also does not cover any federal employees. 

 

Covered Employers

Likewise, nearly all New Jersey employers must comply with the Equal Pay Act. There is no minimum amount of employees an employer must have for the Equal Pay Act to apply. In fact, even one employee is enough for the Equal Pay Act to apply. Furthermore, a New Jersey employer need not live in New Jersey for the Equal Pay Act to apply. As long as an employer has employees with a primary place of work located in New Jersey, they must comply with the Equal Pay Act. The Equal Pay Act does not apply to federal government employers. Although, it does apply to state and municipal government employers. 

 

Need a Lawyer?

If you think you have a case for pay discrimination under the Equal Pay Act, contact a lawyer right away. Together, you and your lawyer can decipher the specifics of your case and your next best move to build a successful claim. David Kaplan, attorney at law, has specialized in areas of employment discrimination for over 30 years. His extensive knowledge of New Jersey discrimination laws, and the rights of employees, nearly guarantees success for his clients. Kaplan is passionate about dedicating his time and resources to help those who have had their rights violated. Starting with a free initial consultation, David Kaplan handles every case personally. For more information, or to book free legal consultation, visit his website

 

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Remote Workplace Harassment

Remote Workplace Harassment Still Happens from Home

A recent report from the EEOC noted when workplaces are decentralized or remote, employees may feel unaccountable for their behavior and actions. Furthermore, employees working remotely may mistakenly believe that the standard workplace policies and behavioral expectations do not apply. All of this paired with the relaxed monitoring of employee conduct, and decreased civility of online spaces in general, can quickly turn a remote workplace hostile. Unfortunately workplace harassment still happens from home offices. With many companies switching to remote work this past year, due to Covid-19, it is important to know your lawful rights when working from home. In this article, we will discuss what remote workplace harassment can look like, what your employer should be doing about it, and how a lawyer can help. 

 

Understanding Digital Harassment

While many assume that harassment only happens in physical, shared work spaces, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Because working from home tends to, “take on a more casual tone,” it can harm the civility, professionalism, and accountability of a workplace. The decreased formality of working remotely can ultimately contribute to a culture that tolerates harassment. Harassment is defined as, “unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.” Harassment becomes unlawful when enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition for continued employment. Harassment is also unlawful if the conduct is severe enough to make a reasonable person feel like their work environment is intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Now that we understand the legal definition of harassment, let’s dive into what digital harassment may look like. 

Digital harassment can happen in a variety of different ways. For example, coworkers may send inappropriate jokes, comments, pictures, memes, or GIFs via email, chat messages, or employee forums. Any unsolicited or inappropriate messaging through a company’s messaging app could be considered unlawful harassment as well. With remote work, online messaging apps such as Slack or Microsoft Teams have become important ways to foster collaboration amongst employees. The downside, however, is that inappropriate and hostile behaviors have more room to hide in online platforms. Harassers may be able to access a channel that managers aren’t monitoring through one-on-one or small group messages. Additionally, inappropriate or discriminatory comments could be made during a video call. Digital harassment can also take the form of exclusion or ridicule, such as intentionally muting an employee during video conferences. 

The list above of possible digital harassment examples is not exhaustive. It is important to speak with an experienced attorney about the specifics of your case to help you decide your next best move. We will talk more about how a lawyer can help at the end of this article. 

 

What Employers Should Be Doing

The world is becoming increasingly digital, and many companies are now expanding their remote work opportunities indefinitely. Thus, it is important that a company’s anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies specifically prohibit online harassment as well. Company training requirements should also include materials that apply to all work environments, in office or remote. In addition, employers should provide a clearly articulated process for reporting harassment. Within this process there should be multiple channels for reporting and clear expectations for what a harassment investigation may look like. Both the reporting processes and investigation expectations depicted in a company’s anti-harassment policy should reflect the realities of both in office and remote employees. For example, if one of the investigation requirements is an in-person interview, your employer must review and revise the requirements to accommodate remote workers. 

Tackling workplace harassment in the midst of a huge shift in working practices and norms will take time. However, remote work and digital harassment will not end with the pandemic. The sooner the battle for inclusive anti-harassment policy extends beyond offices, the better. Now, employers must also consider the email, video, and instant messaging platforms that power the modern workplace. 

 

How a Lawyer Can Help

If you believe you are a victim of remote workplace harassment, make sure to record and preserve the evidence you have. This includes taking screenshots of inappropriate messages and emails. For the sake of your case, try your best to remain professional and calm. Next, contact an experienced attorney. An attorney will be able to review the individual circumstances and facts of your case and help you decipher the next best course of action. Again, to qualify as unlawful harassment, the offensive conduct must become a condition for continued employment, or make a reasonable person feel like their work environment is intimidating, hostile, and/or abusive. A seasoned lawyer will be able to look at your case and determine how successful your case may be in a court of law. If your case stands a chance, a lawyer will help you file important documents and build your strongest case possible. 

The legal expertise of a lawyer who specializes in harassment and discrimination cases could ultimately save you time and money in the long-run. Moreover, if you are filing a harassment case against an employer, it is likely they will have legal representation. If you do not also have legal representation, you will be at a disadvantage. David Kaplan, attorney at law, has over 30 years of experience defending individuals who have had their rights infringed upon. David understands the societal shift to remote workplaces requires revised anti-harassment measures by employers because digital harassment is prevalent and pervasive. His expertise in unlawful harassment will guide and provide you with the justice you deserve. David Kaplan provides a free initial case consultation and is truly passionate about crafting strong, successful claims. For more information about Kaplan’s legal successes, areas of expertise, or to book your free consultation visit his website

 

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Personal Injury Cases

Personal Injury Cases Against a Business

Unfortunately, accidents can happen anywhere. If you slip and fall on a business’s property, you may be entitled to compensation. The compensation that may be won in a personal injury case can help you pay for unforeseen medical bills and complications due to the fall. It is important to know your rights when it comes to a business’s liability to keep you safe and unharmed. Follow along and we will discuss the key elements of successful personal injury cases against a business and what your next step should be if you have a case. 

 

The Three Basic Elements

In a personal injury lawsuit against a business, you must be able to prove negligence on behalf of the employers. A typical negligence claim has three main elements: a duty of care owed by the business to the customer, a breach of the duty of care, and harm caused by the breach. 

Proving Duty of Care

A business that welcomes customers to its premises has a duty to act reasonably to provide for the safety of its customers. However, courts understand that businesses cannot prevent all injuries from happening, thus businesses are not liable for just any injury suffered by a customer. To protect businesses from being overburdened by safety standards, courts impose a reasonableness standard. The requirements of this standard can vary given the context of a case and also may vary state to state. 

For example, a reasonableness standard may require a business to create and follow a procedure to regularly inspect the premises for defects that could harm a customer. Another example is businesses may be required to provide a mat or rug at the front door to avoid accumulation of water on the floor, thus avoiding slippery conditions. If slippery conditions or wet floors occur, it is likely the reasonableness standard requires the business to place warning signs near the dangerous area. Businesses must also look for and immediately clean up hazardous conditions, such as wet floors, snowy sidewalks, snowy parking lots, parking lots in need of repair due to potholes and cracks, loose cords, sharp edges, improperly stacked merchandise, etc. 

In many situations, you may need to find an expert testimony to determine the proper standard in a particular case. This expert should have extensive knowledge of the safety standards in the industry in question and will testify the safety standards expected in particular contexts. 

 

Proving Breach of Duty

If a business has failed to fulfill its duty of care, it is said to have “breached” their duty. The key to proving a breach of duty is to first prove the proper duty of care given the circumstances. For example, if a customer at a grocery store slips and falls because of a spilled product in one of the aisles, they would need to prove that the business failed to create a cleaning schedule that would regularly remove spills from the floor. Or, if the business does have a cleaning schedule created, perhaps they failed to adhere to the schedule on the day of the accident. Either one of these failures to fulfill the duty of care could be considered a breach of duty. 

 

Proving Harm Caused by the Breach

The critical issue is proving the breach actually caused the harm. The harm can take many forms, including: pain, suffering, cost of medical bills, loss of earning capacity, and/or the loss of the ability to enjoy life’s pleasures in the same way as prior to injury. Even if there is a breach of duty and a customer got hurt, if the two are not directly related the business is not liable for the injury. Meaning, if you tripped in a store on a rainy day and there was no rug at the front door, but the real reason you tripped was because your shoelace is untied, the breach did not actually cause the harm. In other words, even though there was no rug at the front of the store, and as a result the floor may have been slippery and wet, you tripped on your shoelace so you probably would not win in a lawsuit against the business. 

 

Who to Sue?

Knowing who exactly to sue in a personal injury claim against a business is key to the success of a case. Who you sue generally depends on the nature of the claimed negligence. If the business owner owns the property you were injured on, then, in general, the only potential defendant would be the store owner themselves. However, often store owners lease their property, so you may also have a claim against the landlord or property owner. 

If you injure yourself because of a structural issue with the building, you would likely file a claim against the landlord or property owner. For example, if there was a crack on the sidewalk out front causing you to trip and fall, that is the landlord’s fault. Another example would be, if there is a leak in the ceiling causing slippery wet floors, it would be the landlord’s responsibility if you were to slip and fall. For more information about accidents on dangerous or defective property, click here

On the other hand, if you slip because of something the tenant or business owner did, or failed to do, then your claim would be against the store owner. An example of a claim against a store owner would be slipping because water was tracked into the store and the owner neglected to clean it up or notify customers of the danger with a wet floor sign or cones. 

 

Legal Representation

Because of the varying complexities of a personal injury case, it is helpful to have the guidance of a legal professional. David Kaplan, attorney at law, offers free case evaluations to give you a better understanding of who you should sue, the details of your case, and if your claim is likely to result in a desirable verdict. With 30+ years of experience, David has the expertise and knowledge to help you build your strongest case. Furthermore, he is passionate about helping those who have had their rights infringed upon and personally handles every case with care. For more information, or to schedule your free case evaluation, visit David Kaplan’s website

 

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Reasons to Hire a Lawyer

Reasons to Hire a Lawyer

Has something happened to you recently that has made you question if you should hire a lawyer? You may think with all the legal information and tools on the internet, you can handle your case independently. Moreover, some legal issues do not require an attorney, such as fighting a speeding ticket or going to small claims court. However, in the case of other legal disputes, there are many reasons to hire a lawyer, especially to maximize the effectiveness of your case. For more information on the benefits and reasons to hire a lawyer, continue reading. 

 

Maximum Efficiency 

We will start by saying, the law is complicated and changes regularly. In fact, most lawyers specialize in specific areas of law because it would be impossible to learn, remember, and understand all of the laws and legal procedures in existence. A solid case can quickly unravel without the quick thinking and problem-solving expertise of a trained attorney. Furthermore, without a lawyer guiding you through endeavors with potential legal ramifications, you may run into otherwise avoidable issues. As a rule of thumb, it is always better to avoid legal problems rather than fix them later. 

Cost Concerns

A frequent concern when thinking about hiring a lawyer is the cost. Needless to say, the services lawyers provide are often costly. However, lawyers have the experience, resources, and knowledge to fight for the best outcome for their clients. Ultimately, not having a lawyer could cost you more in the long run. If the stakes of your case are high, hiring a good lawyer will be worth the money. 

Unbeatable Expertise

Next, a lawyer knows how to take care of all the technicalities of a case. For example, they know how to challenge evidence, negotiate settlements, negotiate plea bargains, properly fill out legal documents, follow the correct procedures, and they have access to witnesses and experts you may need for a successful case. Without proper legal training, you may not be able to tell if a key piece of evidence was improperly obtained or that the testimony of a witness contradicts a previous statement. Your attorney will be specifically looking for these things and may even be able to suppress flawed evidence. 

Also, if you are not an attorney, it can be hard to understand the deadlines and protocol for properly filling out and filing certain legal documents. Filing the wrong document or following the wrong procedure could derail your case, or have it thrown out completely. An experienced lawyer has probably seen a case similar to yours or at least knows enough to make an educated guess on how it might get resolved at trial. Sometimes, a settlement is the best option, while other times it is important to see your case through to trial. A lawyer will be able to calculate the best option given your case, and then begin preparing your strongest case for that option immediately. An attorney can also help negotiate a fair settlement with the other party, probably more effectively than you.

Lastly, attorneys depend on an extended network of professionals to help their clients win their cases. They spend their entire career building and refining their professional network. As an individual, it is likely you don’t have the same network connections that can help with discovery or can challenge evidence or testimony by the opposing party. The network surrounding an attorney is one of their greatest assets and could be the deciding factor between you winning or losing the case.

 

Presenting Your Strongest Case

It is important when you are presenting a case to present the strongest case possible. Pleading guilty or admitting fault are not the only options, even if there is direct evidence pointing against you. A lawyer can thoroughly explain all your options and help you avoid potentially severe penalties. A lawyer can also recommend the best course of action for the most desirable result. 

Also worth noting, it is likely the opposing party in your case has legal representation. If they have legal representation and you do not, you are signing up for an unfair fight. As we mentioned earlier, the law is complicated and if you do not have legal representation, the attorney representing the opposing party would take advantage of this inequity. 

 

Immediate Investigation

Surveying the Scene and Securing Witnesses 

If you suffer an injury, you must seek an attorney immediately because there may be a need to urgently investigate. Conducting a thorough investigation in the aftermath of an accident is extremely important in determining who is legally liable for the damages you have suffered. The accident scene may need to be photographed before it changes or is cleaned up. Also, your attorney may need to secure a statement from a witness while the witness is still around. Both these steps are important in building your strongest case and are extremely time-sensitive. Thus, you should contact an attorney immediately if you are injured. 

 

Maintaining Case Legitimacy

Furthermore, for a case to be successful and valid an attorney may need to obtain a police report or file statutorily required forms to preserve a claim. If you wait too long to secure legal help, you may jeopardize the legitimacy of your case. In the event that you fail to contact an attorney immediately, still try to get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible. Most attorneys will have a team of accident reconstruction specialists, doctors, and other professionals who will do their best to analyze the incident and your injuries to determine what happened and who is at fault. 

 

Bottom line, it is best to contact an attorney right away if you have suffered an injury. If you neglected to do so at the time of your injury, don’t give up hope yet. An attorney may still be able to help you build a solid case as long as you contact them as soon as possible. 

Free Consultation

Luckily, many attorneys provide a free case consultation. During this first meeting with an attorney, you will get a better understanding of the type of case you have and its likely outcome. There is ultimately no reason for you to not speak with a lawyer and get a better idea of the legal journey ahead of you. A free consultation will also clear up any uncertainty you may have about needing or not needing legal representation for your specific case. Furthermore, a free consultation can give you a good feel for the lawyer and if they seem like a good match for you. It is important to get a lawyer you can connect with and who you feel genuinely cares about your case. 

 

Talk to a Lawyer Today

If you are searching for legal representation in the state of New Jersey, look no further than David Kaplan. With 30+ years of experience, David Kaplan, attorney at law, has dedicated his career to helping those who have had their rights infringed upon in a variety of situations. David handles each case personally and with his wealth of legal knowledge and expertise, he has won multiple million-dollar verdicts and other large awards. His successful results paired with his passion for justice will help you find the legal representation you deserve. For more information, or to book a free consultation, visit David Kaplan’s website

 

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Residential Evictions During the Pandemic

Residential Evictions During the Pandemic

Many people are struggling financially due to the extra pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is difficult not knowing if you will be able to afford rent and the repercussions that could come from that. Now more than ever, it is important that you know your rights versus your landlord’s rights in order to be prepared. Below, we will discuss what there is to know about residential evictions during the pandemic and when it is time to get a lawyer involved. 

 

Eviction Moratoriums: State and Federal

In New Jersey, Governor Philip Murphy issued an executive order that has suspended evictions throughout the state. This is called an eviction moratorium. Essentially, except for under rare circumstances, no one can be removed from their home as a result of an eviction proceeding while this executive order is in effect. Furthermore, the moratorium applies to all pre-existing eviction orders. All previously issued eviction orders are suspended and you cannot be removed from your home under the state eviction moratorium. 

The eviction moratorium in New Jersey will last until two months after Governor Murphy declares an end to the current public health crisis. So far, the Governor has extended the official public health emergency order multiple times since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak. The most recent extension of the public health emergency will last until December 22, 2020, meaning the eviction moratorium will last until February 22, 2021. However, if Governor Murphy were to extend the state of emergency again, the eviction moratorium could last longer for New Jersey residents. 

You may have heard that the CDC also issued a federal order in September that prevents residential lockouts through December 31, 2020. New Jersey residents can ignore the CDC order for now because it is less protective than the state issued eviction moratorium. 

 

Court and Eviction Trials

The courts are currently only holding eviction trials in emergency cases. The New Jersey Supreme Court ordered in July that most landlord-tenant trials be suspended until further notice. Under the order, missed rent payments do not constitute an emergency case unless there was a tenant death involved. Landlords can still file eviction complaints against tenants even though most trials are suspended at this time. Therefore, you may still receive an eviction complaint in the mail or posted at your residence. If you are in the middle of an eviction proceeding and have an upcoming court date, you should not go to court. You will not be penalized for missing your court date.

Moreover, the order instructs landlord-tenant courts to schedule remote intake and pretrial / settlement conferences. You may receive a notice from the court directing you to appear at a pretrial / settlement conference via telephone or video. If you get such a notice, contact a legal services organization, share the complaint you received with an organization or lawyer who has agreed to help you, and remember you do not have to settle. If you did not receive a complaint prior to being called for a pretrial / settlement conference, share that information with your lawyer and the court. If you choose not to settle, your case will be scheduled for trial once the courts resume eviction trials. Again, you cannot be locked out or removed from your home until two months after Governor Murphy ends the public health emergency, regardless of pending complaints or trials. 

 

Rent is Still Due

Unfortunately, rent is still due on scheduled rent payment days per your lease agreement. If you are struggling to make rent payments and need some guidance on how to address your rent situation with your landlord, call the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency for free counseling over the phone. Any rent payments you miss will become back-rent that you owe. One way or another, you will probably have to pay all the rent money you owe per your lease agreement to avoid future eviction. 

 

Security Deposits

Governor Murphy has also passed an executive order that allows New Jersey residents to direct their landlords to use their security deposit to pay rent. Your security deposit funds can be used to either pay your rent in full, or to make up the shortfall amount. Tenants will not be obligated to pay any further security deposit in relation to their current lease agreement. Tenants will, however, still be responsible for any money landlords expend that would have been reimbursable via the security deposit, for example, damages to the property. If you are planning on renewing your lease, you will be required to replenish the security deposit in full either six months after the public health state of emergency is lifted or the day the lease agreement is renewed, whichever date is later. 

 

Utilities

Like rent, utility payments are also due as normal. If you cannot pay your utility bills now, you will owe the money later. Fortunately, Executive Order 190 suspends residential utility and water shutoffs until March 15, 2021. The order also requires resumption of services that have been discontinued and forbids the imposition of late fees during the public health emergency period. As far as cable and telecommunication providers go, they must first check with the tenant to see if any school-aged children are using the internet services for educational purposes. If so, the provider may not terminate service until March 15, 2021. If not, the provider must offer an interest-free payment plan and may not disconnect services if the customer agrees to the plan. For low-income households, the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) may be able to provide some assistance with utility bills. You can also check the website of the Board of Public Utilities for a list of agencies that offer assistance. 

 

Additional Housing Assistance

For any additional assistance regarding rent, the DCA posts summaries of different rental assistance programs. You can use the DCAid portal to see if you are eligible for any of the programs listed. You may also consider reaching out to your landlord and explaining your situation in order to work out a payment plan. 

 

What if Your Landlord Has Locked You Out?

If your landlord has locked you out, know this is an illegal crime. Call your local police department, they are required to help you get back into your home. If the police refuse to help, or state this is a “civil” matter that doesn’t involve them, ask them to look at the N.J.S.A. 2C:33-11.1 statue. 

 

When to Seek a Lawyer’s Help

If your landlord is blatantly ignoring any of the official executive orders discussed above, it may be time to contact a professional lawyer to discuss the specifics of your case. Additionally, if you have received an eviction complaint or a notice to attend a virtual pretrial / settlement conference, contact a lawyer for legal assistance. David Kaplan, attorney at law, believes everyone deserves quality legal representation. He has dedicated his 30 year career to helping those that have had their rights infringed upon and handles every case personally. If you want to book a free case consultation, visit New Jersey Lawyer David H. Kaplan’s website

 

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Employee’s Sick Leave and Family Leave Rights

Employee’s Sick Leave and Family Leave Rights

New Jersey has some of the most comprehensive earned sick leave, temporary disability, and family leave laws in the country. Since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, employees are in need of extensive sick leave and family leave rights now more than ever. More specifically, parents are in need of extra support where they have childcare issues due to unavailability of caregivers or school closures. Because of this, the federal government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to provide extended emergency sick leave and emergency family leave to all states. Below, we will discuss New Jersey employee’s earned sick leave and family leave rights in addition to the extra protections provided by the FFCRA for those struggling with childcare. 

 

New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law

The New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law requires employers of all sizes to provide most employees with up to 40 hours of earned sick leave per year. You are not covered under this law if you are employed in the construction industry under a union contract or if you are a per diem health care worker. Public employees provided sick leave at full pay under any other NJ law and independent contractors who do not meet the definition of an employee under NJ law are also not covered. 

The earned sick leave hours can be used to care for yourself or a loved one in need. Employees often use their earned sick leave to: attend a child’s school related event, or to take care of children when school or childcare is closed due to an epidemic or public health emergency. You may be required to provide reasonable documentation if you use earned sick leave three or more consecutive workdays. 

 

Accrual of Earned Sick Leave

You accrue 1 hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours of work. Again, you can earn up to a maximum of 40 hours of leave per benefit year. Alternatively, your employer may award you 40 hours of earned sick leave upfront. A “benefit year” refers to any regular and consecutive 12-month period determined by your employer. When you are hired, you must receive a written notice of your right to earned sick leave which will state the benefit year period. 

 

Payment and Unused Earned Sick Leave

Your rate of pay while using earned sick leave days must be your regular hourly rate, but no less than the state minimum wage. If you are not paid hourly, visit the “Payment of Earned Sick Leave” tab here to learn more. 

If you did not use all of your earned sick leave, you can carry over up to 40 hours of unused earned sick leave into the next benefit year. However, your employer is required to only allow you to use up to 40 hours of leave per year. Instead, your employer may offer to pay you for your unused earned sick leave at the end of the benefit year. 

 

Retaliation

Your employer cannot retaliate against you for requesting or using earned sick leave. In fact, most acts of retaliation against an employee are illegal. Retaliation includes any adverse action against you for exercising or attempting to exercise any right guaranteed under the law. Additionally, your employer cannot require you to search for or find a replacement worker to cover the hours during which you used your earned sick leave. 

 

New Jersey Family Leave Act

The New Jersey Family Leave Act provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave during any 24 month period. To receive the NJFLA benefits, you must work for a state or local government agency, or for a company with 30 or more employees worldwide. Also, you must have been employed by the company for at least 1 year and have worked at least 1,000 hours in the past 12 months. Once you have earned the 12 weeks of family leave, you can take a consecutive block of up to 12 weeks of leave, or you can take leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule. Once you return to work, you are generally entitled to return to the same position you held before you left. Your employer may not retaliate against you because you took or attempted to take leave under the NJFLA. 

What NJFLA Leave Can Be Used For

Leave under the NJFLA can be used to: care for or bond with a child, as long as they are within 1 year of being birthed or placed for adoption or foster care. Any parent is allowed to take leave under NJFLA to bond with a newborn or care for a child just placed for adoption or foster care. 

The leave can also be used to care for a family member (including children), with a serious health condition, or who has been isolated or quarantined due to a suspected exposure to a communicable disease during a state of emergency. For reference, Covid-19 is considered both a serious health condition and is classified as a communicable disease. Lastly, the leave can be used, specifically, to provide required care or treatment for a child during a state of emergency if their school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official due to an epidemic or other public health emergency, including Covid-19. 

 

NJFLA is Not the Same as FMLA

NJFLA is not the same as the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You will not use up your NJFLA leave if you are taking leave to care for your own serious medical condition. Therefore, in some situations, you may be able to take 12 weeks of FMLA leave to care for your own condition and then an additional 12 weeks of NJFLA leave to care for a family member all within the same 12 month period. If you are pregnant, or just had a baby, you can take up to 12 weeks for pregnancy and recovery under the FMLA. Then, you can take an additional 12 weeks of NJFLA leave to bond with and care for your newborn after your doctor certifies you are fit to return to work, or after you have exhausted your FMLA leave, whichever is earlier. 

 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was set forth by the federal government to expand on employee’s rights to emergency sick and family leave related to Covid-19. Currently, this act is only applicable until December 30, 2020. Generally, if you work for a company with fewer than 500 employees, your employer must provide paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave through the FFCRA. For more information about the 500 employee threshold, visit this link. For more information regarding small business exemption from FFCRA, click here

For those struggling to find care for your child due to school closures or lack of available childcare because of Covid-19, FFCRA would provide you with up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave. In addition to extra paid sick leave for your own health conditions, the FFCRA mandates employers provide all employees with up to 80 hours of paid sick leave, at two-thirds your regular rate of pay, if you are unable to work because of a bonafide need to care for a child under 18 years of age whose school or childcare provider is unavailable for reasons related to Covid-19. Furthermore, you may be eligible for an additional 10 weeks of paid family and medical leave, at two-thirds your regular rate of pay. To qualify for the additional 10 weeks, you must have been employed for at least 30 calendar days. You can use the 10 weeks to, again, care for a child whose school or childcare provider is unavailable for reasons related to Covid-19. 

 

Have Your Rights Been Violated?

If you feel your rights have been violated under any of three laws discussed above, contact David Kaplan for a free legal consultation. With 30+ years of experience, David Kaplan, attorney at law, is dedicated to providing you with the compassionate legal care you deserve. He handles each case personally and will be able to provide you with legal insight specific to your case. For more information, or to book your free consultation, visit David’s website

 

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Dangers of an Employment Arbitration Agreement

The Dangers of Signing an Employment Arbitration Agreement

Since the 1980’s there has been a significant shift in the balance of power within the workplace. As employees lose power, their employers gain more power. This power shift is all due to the Supreme Court’s reinterpretation of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). The FAA, when it was originally enacted in 1925, only applied to a narrow range of commercial disputes. In the 1980’s, however, the Supreme Court radically expanded the scope of the statue, applying it to all types of disputes. Now, it is common for employers to require employees to sign arbitration agreements in order to receive the job at hand, or to remain employed. Although the trend towards arbitration agreements is great for the employer, the same cannot be said for employees. Follow along to see the true dangers of signing an employment arbitration agreement. 

 

Stripping Your Rights to Sue in a Court of Law

Essentially, when you sign an employment arbitration agreement, you are signing away your rights to sue your employer in a court of law. Instead, if you have an issue of any kind within the workplace, you must settle the dispute in arbitration. Arbitration is a private process in which the disputing parties agree that a neutral third party can make a final decision about the dispute after receiving evidence and hearing both sides of the argument. 

While it may seem nice and cordial to avoid courts, it actually benefits the employer much more often than it benefits the employee. The rate at which employees win arbitration cases (21.4%) is lower than the rate at which they win federal (36.4%) and state (51%) court cases. In addition, the differences in damages awarded is even greater. The median award in an employee’s arbitration case is only 21% of the median award in federal court cases and 43% of the median award in state courts. Thus, even if you happen to win your arbitration case as an employee, you will win much less than if you were to file a winning lawsuit against your employer. 

Furthermore, some arbitration agreements may include that if the employee loses the case they will have to pay for arbitration fees out of pocket. A clause such as this can serve as a strong deterrent to employees who may be considering bringing up cases against their employer, for fear of the potential costs. Ultimately, deterring employees from speaking out is bad for everyone because it allows businesses to continue operating without having to face the consequences of misconduct. 

 

Arbitration is an Unfair Forum

Moreover, arbitration is an unfair forum because of the lack of regulation. Though arbitrators claim to be unbiased third parties, the employer is in charge of picking the arbitrator and arbitration forum if an employee files a case. Therefore, arbitrators often have incentive for siding with the employer to gain the employers loyalty and repeat business. Additionally, arbitrators do not have to necessarily follow the law or issue written explanations of how they interpreted the law in relation to the case. Further, arbitration is a secretive forum, not open to the public, thus, results can be kept confidential allowing for potential collusion between the arbitrator and employer. Lastly, there is limited discovery in arbitration which can ultimately deny the employee the means to gather enough evidence to fully support their claim, putting them at a disadvantage. Overall, the structure and rules of arbitration clearly lean towards the benefit of the employer. 

 

Contacting an Attorney

Before signing an employment arbitration agreement, it may benefit you to see an attorney to help you understand exactly the terms you are agreeing to. Also, an attorney may be able to give you suggestions for negotiating the agreement to better benefit you as an employee. Likewise, if you already have signed an arbitration agreement or have refused to sign an arbitration agreement and have faced discrimination, contact a qualified attorney for the next steps. In New Jersey, there have been multiple attempts to bar employers from using agreements that waive rights and remedies for employees facing discrimination. For more information on the specifics of New Jersey law in relation to arbitration agreements and discrimination, contact David Kaplan. David Kaplan and his team are dedicated to helping citizens who have had their rights infringed upon. Plus, with 30 years of experience and numerous winning verdicts, you can expect nothing but quality legal representation. 

 

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