In December 2019, Gov. Murphy signed into law the new Crown Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act) which includes discrimination based upon "traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles, such as braids, locks and twists." This law, arising from incident of an Atlantic County student wrestler who was forced by an official to cut his dreadlocks, will now make it unlawful to discriminate against an employee for the nature and style of their hair.
As the New Jersey legislature proceeds through its "lame duck" session in the last days of 2019, it is possible that the Assembly and Senate may revisit the bill legalizing recreational marijuana usage and vote to adopt same. While the legislation will decriminalize recreational usage at the state level, marijuana still remains a Schedule 1 regulated substance per the Federal Controlled Substance Act. Accordingly, you will need to ensure that your employee handbooks and workplace policies address the consumption, usage, testing of this substance during your working hours. How you address it will depend on the nature of your business and the specific job tasks done by your different categories of employees.
Protecting your Company's Brand
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently dismissed an employee's claim for disability discrimination and retaliation where the employer was able to show a well documented progressive discipline process. Simons v. Bos. Sci., 765 F. App'x 773 (3d. Cir. 2019)
The EEOC defines harassment as "unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information." To be actionable at law, the harassment needs to be aimed at these protected categories.
As an employer and an entrepreneur, the highest and best use of your time is spent in working in your business. The most frustrating part of your job as a manager is likely to be the moment when you receive the charge from the NJ Division of Civil Rights (DCR) or EEOC alleging that you or one of your employees has committed some form of harassment and discrimination.
Discrimination comes in as many shapes and sizes as people do. This is why the list of groups that have protected status under federal anti-discrimination laws seems to grow longer every few years. Even if you are among those whom federal law already protects, you may be feeling that someone at work is treating you unfairly.