Last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that each day an employee is paid a lower salary based on a past unlawful discriminatory decision is a separate violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). As a result, three tenured Seton Hall University professors can proceed with their age and gender discrimination lawsuit, even though (1) the alleged discriminatory decision was made more than two years before they filed the lawsuit, and (2) the LAD has a two-year statute of limitations.
Specifically, in Alexander v. Seton Hall University, three female professors who are over 60 years old sued Seton Hall and certain school officials. They claim they were paid less than their younger male colleagues. They largely based their claims on the University’s 2004-2005 annual report, which shows that Seton Hall pays higher salaries to younger male faculty members than older female faculty members.
However, the trial court dismissed the case, ruling that since the allegedly discriminatory decision was made more than two years before the employees sued, their case was barred by the statute of limitations. That decision was affirmed by New Jersey’s Appellate Division. Both courts relied on the United States Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which ruled that the statute of limitations for claims of discriminatory wages under federal law begins when the employer makes the discriminatory decision.