Included In

Earlier this month, in Pritchett v. State, the New Jersey Supreme Court confirmed that the state of New Jersey and municipalities remain subject to punitive damages under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”).

Shelley Pritchett worked for the State of New Jersey as a Senior Corrections Officer at the Juvenile Justice Center (“JJC”).  In 2011, Officer Pritchett suffered back, knee and neck injuries when she broke up a fight between two inmates.  She went on a workers’ compensation leave as a result.  Her doctor subsequently diagnosed her with multiple sclerosis. As a result, she sought to extend her medical leave by approximately 4 ½ months.  However, the JJC denied her request, and instead offered to extend her leave by only about a month and told her that if she was not medically cleared to return to work by then she would have to resign.

Female Correction Officer Disability Discrimination AppealOfficer Pritchett was unable to return to work within the additional time JJC had granted.  However, she told the JJC she did not want to resign.  In response, JJC told her that if she did not resign by the end of the week, it would initiate disciplinary proceedings to fire her, and she would lose her pension.  In response, Officer Pritchett applied for a disability retirement.

A recent District of New Jersey opinion emphasizes the importance of recertifying an intermittent Family & Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) leave when your employer asks you to do so. An intermittent leave is when you seek permission to take time off, as needed in the future.

Son Comforting MotherMatthew Calio is a corrections officer for the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders, which does business as the Camden County Department of Corrections (“DOC”). Mr. Calio alleges the DOC violated the FMLA and the New Jersey Family Leave Act (“NJFLA”) when it suspended him after he took time off to help care for his mother who suffers from dementia.

On several previous occasions, Mr. Calio asked the DOC for an intermittent family leave so he could help care for his mother, and the DOC granted his request. His most recent request was in 2018, which he sought due to his mother’s intermittent flare ups that caused her to be incapacitated once per month for up to five days. The DOC granted Mr. Calio permission to take up to one week off every four weeks between December 12, 2018 and June 12, 2019.

One potential defense an employer has in a sexual harassment case is that the employee unreasonably failed to make use of the employer’s anti-harassment policy.  A recent New Jersey Appellate Division opinion highlights the fact that this defense does not apply if the harassment led to an adverse employment action, such as the employee being fired, demoted, or suspended without pay.

Supervisor sexually harassing an employeeRamona McBride worked as a sales trainee for a car dealership, Foulke Management Corp., dba Atlantic Jeep Chrysler Fiat.  She alleges her immediate supervisor, sales manager Jack Dellafave, made sexual advances toward her and fired her because she rejected his advances.

The harassment started with Mr. Dellafave sending Ms. McBride text messages in which he told her that he was “attracted” to her, invited her to his hotel room, and offered to pay for her cab ride to his hotel.  Ms. McBride declined each of those offers.

Earlier this year, the New Jersey Supreme Court recognized that an employee who quits a job to accept another job offer, only to have the new employer withdraw its offer, may be able to recover “reliance damages.”  In other words, he might be able to recover damages based on the salary and benefits he gave up at his previous job.

Jed Goldfarb is an investment advisor.  From 2009 to 2013, he worked as a research analyst with Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co., Inc.  During that period, he was paid entirely based on commissions, and earned between $308,000 and $466,000 per year.

Legal claim based on rescinded job offerIn March 2013, Mr. Goldfarb received an oral job offer from David Solimine to manage Mr. Solimine’s family’s substantial investment portfolio.  According to Mr. Goldfarb, the offer included a base salary of $250,000 to $275,000, plus commissions.  Mr. Goldfarb accepted Mr. Solimine’s offer, and quit his job with Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co. so he could work for him.

A recent decision from the District of New Jersey concludes that, when an employer claims it fired an employee as part of a corporate restructuring, but has no documents to prove there was a restructuring, can be enough to prove age discrimination in violation of New Jersey law.

Employee-fired-due-to-age-discrimination-300x200In 2014, Talbird Reeves Sams began working for Pinnacle Treatment Centers, Inc.  His job was to find new locations for new facilities, and to help Pinnacle open those facilities.

In 2016, Pinnacle’s Chief Development Officer, Robert O’Sullivan, told Mr. Sams that his position was being eliminated due to “corporate restructuring” and his employment was being terminated as a result.  At that time, Mr. Sams was 58 years old.

Yesterday, a unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that two racially offensive slurs uttered by a supervisor can be enough to create a hostile work environment in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”).

Armando Rios, Jr. is Hispanic.  He worked for Meda Pharmaceutical, Inc. as its Director of Brand Marketing.  His immediate supervisor, Tina Cheng-Avery, was Meda’s Senior Director of Commercial Operations.

Two Racial Slurs Enough to Create Hostile Work EnvironmentMr. Rios claims Ms. Cheng-Avery made two racial slurs toward him.  First, he claims that when he was discussing his plans to purchase a new house, Ms. Cheng-Avery said “it must be hard for a Spi*k to have to get FHA loans.”  Second, he claims that the following month, when he and Ms. Cheng-Avery were casting actresses for a television commercial for one of Meda’s products, Ms. Cheng-Avery said one of the actress auditioning “would work … if she didn’t look too Spi*ky.”  Ms. Cheng-Avery denies she made either of those comments.

Today, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that an employee does not need to suffer an adverse employment action to win a claim based on the employer’s failure to accommodate her disability under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”).

Teacher denied reasonable accommoation for her disability.Mary Richter is a teacher for the Oakland Board of Education.  Ms. Richter has Type 1 diabetes.  She repeatedly asked the school principal to allow her to change her schedule so she could eat lunch earlier to help her manage her blood sugar levels.  However, the school did not accommodate her an accommodation for her diabetes.

Ms. Richter subsequently experienced a hypoglycemic event in a classroom.  As a result, she fainted, hit her head on a table, and sustained very serious permanent injuries, including:

New Jersey’s Appellate Division has recognized that, although a client has the absolute right to fire its in-house counsel, the lawyer is entitled to damages if the employer fired him without cause, in breach of an employment contract.

Lawyer signing employment agreementKirk Nelson worked as in-house counsel for the Elizabeth Board of Education.  He had a three-year employment agreement to server as board counsel.  Pursuant to the contract, Mr. Nelson was entitled to a salary of $175,000 per year, with two-and-a-half percent annual increases.

Under his contract, the Board could not fire Mr. Nelson during the three-year term without cause.  It defined cause as:

Older employee fired due to his ageAn employee bringing an age discrimination claim does not need to state the age of the individuals who replaced him in the lawsuit.  Rather, at that early stage, it is sufficient to assert that his replacement was “significantly younger” than him.

That was the ruling of the Third Circuit Court of appeals earlier this year.  The Third Circuit is a court that handles appeals from the District of New Jersey.

The case was brought by Zeferino Martinez, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon.  Dr. Martinez’s former employer, UPMC Susquehanna, fired him in 2017.  At the time, Dr. Martinez was 70 years old.

Last month, the New Jersey Supreme Court addressed the New Jersey Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”) for the first time.  The PWFA is an amendment to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) that prohibits pregnancy discrimination.

Pregnant worker experiences discrimination at jobKathleen Delanoy is a police officer.  She filed a lawsuit in which she alleged her employer, the Township of Ocean, discriminated against her because she was pregnant.  However, the trial court dismissed her case on a motion for summary judgment.

As discussed in my previous article, Appellate Court Recognizes Employers Must Accommodate Pregnancy, the Appellate Division subsequently reversed that ruling.  Ocean Township asked the New Jersey Supreme Court to review that decision.

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