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House Cleaner Injured on First Day of Work Was an Independent Contractor Not Covered Under Comp

Luz Lukasik agreed to provide house cleaning services for Marguerite Hollaway and two others. Respondents contacted Lukasik after hearing about her from an acquaintance. At that time she was cleaning five or six other houses and one office building on a regular basis. Petitioner Lukasik and her daughter went to the home of respondents and examined the house. A discussion occurred about the potential for doing laundry, but petitioner declined, stating that she would consider that in the future. The parties did agree to $100 per day for cleaning services.

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Emancipation – Part Two

Yesterday, following the release of our blog regarding Emancipation in the State of New Jersey, the Appellate Division released a reported decision in a case in which a young adult asked to be emancipated from her parents at age eighteen over the objections of her father. This, of course, is the opposite scenario from the typical emancipation case in which a parent asks to emancipate the child, either because that child is beyond the sphere of the parent’s influence or because the parent does not believe that he or she should have to continue to pay child support and/or contribute towards the child’s higher education for other reasons.

In the decision released yesterday, the parties’ daughter, Sharon, testified that she wished to be emancipated because her father was trying to control her choice of college. Sharon acknowledged that if the Court emancipated her, her parents would not be legally compelled to pay for her college or post-college studies (she wishes to attend medical school after college). Although her mother supported Sharon’s emancipation request, her father argued strenuously against it, stating that Sharon is too young and inexperienced to be taking such a step. Put another way, Sharon’s father argued that she is not outside the sphere of her parents’ influence.

The Appellate Division noted that this was a case of first impression, meaning that no other decision has been published in the State of New Jersey in which a young adult has asked to be emancipated from her parents over an objection by one of the parents. Distinguishing it from the opposite cases, in which the parent seeks to emancipate the child, the Court upheld Sharon’s right to become emancipated. The decision was premised upon the trial court’s finding, after a trial, that Sharon “presented as a mature, articulate, intelligent, self-composed and confident adult, who is very focused and thoughtful in her desire for independence and her contemplated path in life.” In light of these findings about Sharon, the Court held that her father’s intentions, even if they were good intentions, were irrelevant. Thus, we now have three emancipation concepts: emancipation, un-emancipation and reverse emancipation.

At the end of the decision, the Appellate Court quoted the Declaration of Independence and wished Sharon well “as she begins her new journey in life.”

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Emancipation in the State of New Jersey

In New Jersey, there is no magic age at which a child will be deemed emancipated. Emancipation has been defined by the New Jersey Supreme Court as “the act by which a parent relinquishes the right to custody and is relieved of the duty to support a child.” While the age of majority in New Jersey is eighteen, eighteen does not represent the age at which a parent no longer has a duty to support their child. Put another way, a child is emancipated when they have moved beyond the sphere of influence and responsibility by the parent and obtains an independent status.

There are certain circumstances that will generally automatically emancipate a child. For example, if a child gets married or enters the armed forces, they are generally considered to be emancipated. In addition, there are certain circumstances in which a child will generally not be automatically emancipated. For example, if a child is 18 and is a full time student enrolled in a post-high school education program, then that child will normally not be considered emancipated. This is true whether a child attends a community college, a university or a trade school. This is also true whether or not a child lives on campus, in off-campus housing, or commutes to school while residing with a parent. Additionally, if a child attends a graduate school program, often they will not be considered emancipated.

In addition, once emancipated, some young adults may become “unemancipated.” On June 2012, the New Jersey Appellate Court issued a decision in which they reiterated the principle that a child can become “unemancipated.” While this opinion was not published, meaning it can not be cited as setting a precedent, it can be used as guidance. In that case, the trial court “unemancipated” a previously emancipated young adult. The “unemancipation” was made at the request of the mother in her application for child support and college contribution from the father. The Appellate Court found that just because a child was emancipated does not mean that the child could not be “unemancipated” for purposes of receiving support in the form of college contribution. The Court reasoned that a brief hiatus between high school and college is becoming commonplace today and to stop a child from seeking contribution from their parents after such a hiatus would be unfair.

It is important to remember that every case is different and the Court will look at each family’s individual circumstances when determining whether a child should be emancipated or “unemancipated.”

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Third Circuit Holds That Employer Can Terminate Employee on FMLA for Violation of Paid Sick Leave Policy by Traveling Far From Home During Leave Without Permission

Someone who is on FMLA is still subject to other leave policies like call-in policies and paid sick leave policies prohibiting distant travel

The case of Denise Pellegrino v. Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 7902 (3d. Circuit 2012) offers important guidance for employers who struggle to deal with the FMLA in the context of a paid sick leave policy.

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New Jersey Supreme Court Rules That Injured Employee May Not Sue Workers’ Comp Carrier for Pain and Suffering Caused Allegedly by Carrier’s Delay in Paying for Medical Services

On August 1, 2012, the New Jersey Supreme Court weighed in on an issue that has important implications for all practitioners of workers’ compensation in this state. The decision in Stancil v. ACE USA A-112-10, 06764. The case concerned a civil law suit stemming from the handling of a compensable work accident that occurred on May 14, 1995. Wade Stancil was injured in 1995 working for Orient Originals and received an award of total and permanent disability.

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