On February 18, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy unveiled a sweeping proposal that significantly strengthens the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. The proposed legislation was the result of a two year study of workplace employment discrimination and sexual harassment conducted by the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. It also mirrors the current societal shift in attitudes about workplace discrimination and sexual harassment. Employers need to be cognizant of these proposed changes and the current climate.

If enacted, New Jersey would require all employers to provide anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training. The New Jersey Supreme Court held that trial court should consider whether or not an employer made training available to supervisors and all employees when deciding whether or not an employer has been negligent in preventing sexual harassment. This proposed change would require training.

Continue Reading Proposed New Jersey Legislation Aimed at Combating Workplace Bias and Sexual Harassment

Over the past decade, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has reported that retaliation is the most common issue alleged by federal employees and the most common discrimination finding in federal sector cases. Nearly half of all claims made to the EEOC are retaliation claims.

The EEOC found that other employers retaliated in violation of the law in greater than 40% of the reported claims, a fact which employers must be aware of. The same is likely true under the anti-retaliation provisions as set forth in the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Hence, it is essential that employers take affirmative remedial steps to prevent retaliation. Moreover, employers must immediately and effectively address retaliation if it is reported.

Continue Reading Employers Must Be Extremely Wary of Retaliation Claims

A do-it-yourself estate plan can lead to a number of unintended consequences as demonstrated by a Florida Supreme Court case, Aldrich v. Basile. In this case, Ms. Ann Aldrich wrote her own Will on a pre-printed legal form. Ms. Aldrich specifically listed each item of her property in her Will, including the account numbers for her financial accounts. The Will left each item of property to Ms. Aldrich’s sister, Mary Jane Eaton; and, if Ms. Eaton did not survive, then Mr. James Aldrich (her brother) was designated as the alternate beneficiary.

Continue Reading Unintended Consequences of a Do-It-Yourself Estate Plan

Earth Fare, Inc., the 45-year old natural and organic grocery chain, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday in Delaware under docket number 20-10256. The Debtor operates more than 53 grocery stores throughout the Southeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwest.

The company is privately held and backed by private equity firms Oak Hill Capital Partners and Green Capital Partners. The Wall Street Journal and the Motley Fool report that the Debtor plans to close all stores.

Continue Reading Earth Fare Files for Liquidating Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

The lawsuits just keep coming… last week, Chapter 11 Debtor, Sears Holdings Corporation (“Sears”) continued to file hundreds of preference complaints to recover money from paid pre-petition creditors. The Debtor filed a mass of suits back in November 2019.

For most creditors, it makes no sense that they receive a complaint to return money for goods or services sold prior to October 15, 2018, when the company filed for bankruptcy protection. However, the Federal Bankruptcy Code allows a debtor to recover “preferences” in bankruptcy – 11 U.S.C. 547.

If you are a trade creditor who received a complaint, before you open the check book to Sears, know what defenses there are to this statutory claim.

Continue Reading Sears Continues to File Hundreds of Preference Suits Against Trade Creditors

While most people who are appointed Powers of Attorney understand their general duty to act only within the best interests of the person for whom they are serving as a Power of Attorney, and to not undertake transactions which solely benefit themselves, most of them do not understand their duty to account which is required by statute. It is important that a Power of Attorney carefully account when utilizing a Power of Attorney to undertake financial transactions, as this issue could come back to bite them if they do not properly account.

Continue Reading The Duty to Account of a Power of Attorney

In a case of first impression, the New Jersey Appellate Division held in January 2020 that an employee’s costs to use medical marijuana to treat chronic pain resulting from a work place injury is reimbursable by his employer.

This case arose out of a construction accident in 2001. Vincent Hager was working on a construction site when a truck delivering concrete dumped its load on him. Following the accident, Hager immediately experienced lower back pain that radiated down both legs, which he described as a “shooting and stabbing pain.” Initially, Hager’s employer, M&K, denied Hager’s workers’ compensation claim. While the claim was pending, Hager began to treat his injuries/pain with marijuana, as made available by New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (MMA), and sued M&K for reimbursement.

Continue Reading Employee’s Cost of Medical Marijuana to Treat Work Place Injury Reimbursable by Employer

An Erie County, New York Supreme Court Justice recently held that the disrespectful and unfair dispropriate treatment of a female shareholder based upon her gender in a closely held corporation constituted oppression. In re Matter of Diane M. Straka, Index No. 807308-2017 (citing, Bus. Law. §1104(a)-(1).

In that case, the Plaintiff, Ms. Straka (a 25% shareholder in a closely held New York corporation) was able to prove at trial that she was subjected to disrespectful treatment based upon her gender. The other three shareholders were men. The Court found among other things, that:

  • When she first met one of the other shareholders, he asked Ms. Straka “…are you the one who makes the coffee;”
  • One of the shareholder’s posted a cartoon on his door that was deeming to women;
  • The Plaintiff stopped eating in the lunchroom because she was subjected to offensive comments; and,
  • One of the male shareholder asked if he could sit in her lap.

Continue Reading Disrespectful & Unfairly Dispropriate Treatment of a Female Shareholder by Male Majority Shareholders in Closely Held Corporation Constituted Oppression

Pursuant to New Jersey corporate law, directors are trustees for the entire body of the owners. Directors owe loyalties to all shareholders. If they disregard the rights of the majority shareholders, minority shareholders, or the corporation itself they could be liable for a breach of fiduciary obligations or duties.

Continue Reading Business Judgement Rule Inapplicable if Director is Engaged in Self-Dealing, Unconscionable, or Fraudulent Activities/Decisions

New Jersey is now among the first three states to have its Hemp Program approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (the “USDA”). The 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp production nationwide by removing hemp and its derivatives, such as CBD, from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) and by providing a detailed framework for the cultivation of hemp.

Continue Reading Growing, Processing, and Handling Hemp Now Legal in New Jersey – Apply Today