A recent unpublished opinion from the New Jersey Appellate Division holds that employees cannot waive in advance their right to recover punitive damages under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”).
Milagros Roman worked for Bergen Logistics LLC as a human resources generalist. She claims that her immediate boss, Human Resources Director Gregg Oliver, made sexual advances toward her. She further alleges that Mr. Oliver retaliated against her by firing her because she complained about the sexual harassment.
Ms. Roman filed a lawsuit against Bergen and Mr. Oliver, claiming they harassed and retaliated against her in violation of the LAD. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss her case and refer it to arbitration. They relied on the fact that when Bergen hired Ms. Roman, she signed an arbitration agreement that required her to resolve any disputes relating to her employment relationship in binding arbitration rather than in court. That agreement includes a provision which states that: “BY SIGNING THIS AGREEMENT YOU AND COMPANY ARE WAIVING ANY RIGHT, STATUTORY OR OTHERWISE, TO A TRIAL BY JURY AND TO PUNITIVE AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES.”