Federal Courts Limit Hiring Protections for Older Workers

As a former employment lawyer and a Baby Boomer, I am dismayed that two recent federal appeals courts, one within the last month, have held that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act does not protect older workers looking for jobs from disparate impact age discrimination, only those who already have jobs.

We are talking about the use of hiring criteria that might not expressly mention age but disfavor job candidates who have too much experience or who graduated too many years ago—factors which correlate closely with age. Continue reading Federal Courts Limit Hiring Protections for Older Workers

PROTECTIONS AGAINST FORFEITURE, FORECLOSURE, AND RETIREMENT SAVINGS GAP ADVANCE IN LEGISLATURE

Legislation that made it through various committees on February 7 would make New Jersey a better and fairer place, enhancing the financial security of retirees, helping people prevent the loss of their homes through foreclosure, and protecting against abusive civil asset forfeitures.

I have written about the Secure Choice Act before, which would establish a state-run retirement savings plan for people whose employers do not offer one. The legislation is in response to studies showing that most people do not save enough on their own for retirement, even though Social Security payments are not enough for seniors to live on—the so-called “retirement savings gap.” Continue reading PROTECTIONS AGAINST FORFEITURE, FORECLOSURE, AND RETIREMENT SAVINGS GAP ADVANCE IN LEGISLATURE

Historic Move by Baltimore to Safeguard its Water System

New Jersey is not the only place where communities are struggling to keep essential public water resources out of private hands.

On August 6, the Baltimore City Council unanimously approved a resolution, Bill 18-0271, to amend the city charter to prohibit the sale or lease of its water system. The amendment would declare the “inalienability” of sewer and water-supply systems and exempt those systems, and their “operations and uses” from charter provisions that otherwise authorize the “grant of franchises or rights relating to the operation or use of public property.”

Continue reading Historic Move by Baltimore to Safeguard its Water System

CHAIR OF PURGED BOARD DECRIES GUTTING OF PRO-CONSUMER AGENCY

As Director of the Fair Financial Services Project of Texas Appleseed, a sister organization and part of our collaborative network, Ann Baddour helps bring low-income and immigrant consumers into the financial mainstream, combating problems such as predatory lending. For the past four years, she has also been a member of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Advisory Board, or CAB, and since last October, has served as CAB chairwoman.

On June 6, Baddour and the rest of the 25-member volunteer board were removed, two days after 11 of them held a press conference, criticizing the cancellations of CAB meetings and apparent efforts to sideline the Board since a Trump appointee took over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB.

Read what she has to say about it in a New York Times op-ed published on June 7, entitled “Why Did the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Fire Us?”

According to Baddour, the CFPB, “established to put the financial well-being of families ahead of the interests of lobbyists and Wall Street,” is being “gutted.”

“This sudden move and other recent changes at the bureau, including efforts to loosen rules intended to protect families and businesses, raise the worrisome prospect that the country will once again end up on a path to foreclosed homes, market failures and taxpayer bailouts,” wrote Baddour.  Continue reading CHAIR OF PURGED BOARD DECRIES GUTTING OF PRO-CONSUMER AGENCY

BILL WOULD END SECRET SEX HARASS SETTLEMENTS, PRESERVE RIGHT TO SUE FOR DISCRIMINATION

Last month, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law legislation meant to make sure that how much you are paid at work does not depend on your gender, race, age, religion or any other personal characteristic covered by NJ’s broad anti-discrimination law.

Another important bill also intended to protect equality in the workplace, is now moving through the Legislature and was voted out of the Senate Labor Committee on March 5 and the Assembly Labor Committee on May 10.

The legislation, S-121/A-1242, would prevent companies from requiring that workers or job applicants agree up front to relinquish their right to sue for discrimination or harassment or any other substantive or procedural right related to a claim for discrimination in order to keep their jobs or get hired in the first place. It would apply also to retaliation claims—where an employer fired or took some other adverse action against someone for complaining of discriminatory conduct.

In addition, the bill would outlaw the secret settlement of discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims, also referred to as “non-disclosure agreements, the sort repeatedly used by movie producer Harvey Weinstein when he paid off his accusers, allowing him to keep sexually assaulting and harassing women for decades.

Continue reading BILL WOULD END SECRET SEX HARASS SETTLEMENTS, PRESERVE RIGHT TO SUE FOR DISCRIMINATION

LANDMARK EQUAL PAY BILL AWAITS SIGNATURE

The State of New Jersey is poised to enact a law that will provide the strongest equal pay protections in the U.S., on either the state or federal level.

The legislation, S-104, goes further than the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Act, a federal law, which overturned federal court precedent limiting the time in which women could sue over discriminatory pay practices and how much they could recover if they won.

Among other protections that exceed those in the federal, law, the NJ legislation allows recovery of up to six years of back pay, provides for treble damages and prohibits employers from requiring existing workers or new hires to waive their legal rights as a condition of employment. It specifically bars any waiver of the two-year time limit for filing suit. (A 2014 state appellate court decision, Rodriguez v. Raymours Furniture, had found such a waiver, one that shortened the time to sue to only six months, was enforceable but the state Supreme Court reversed in 2016.)

The proposed law applies not just to female employees but to any class of employees shielded by the broad scope of NJ’s Law Against Discrimination, or LAD. The LAD’s 17 protected categories include race, color, national origin, disability, age, affectional/sexual orientation, military status and genetic information.

Continue reading LANDMARK EQUAL PAY BILL AWAITS SIGNATURE

New Study Assails Secrecy Surrounding Amazon Headquarters Bids

We all know that Newark is one of the 20 finalists in the running to be selected as the location for Amazon’s second headquarters and that, to lure the company, the state and city are offering up to $7 billion in tax credits and other incentives.

The reason we know that much is because New Jersey and Newark both passed legislation on the subject, exposing the process to public scrutiny.  But the bid Newark submitted to Amazon has not been disclosed. And though huge amounts of public resources are also involved in the bids of the most of the other 19 contenders, including  Chicago Dallas, Miami, and New York City, even less is known about most of those other bids.

The troubling secrecy surrounding the high stakes process is the subject of a study released on April 3 by Good Jobs First, a non-profit that focuses on corporate accountability. The title encapsulates the important issues at stake: “Public Auction, Private Dealings: Will Amazon’s HQ2 Veer to Secrecy Create a Missed Opportunity for Inclusive, Accountable Development?

Continue reading New Study Assails Secrecy Surrounding Amazon Headquarters Bids