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The Special Challenges of Pursuing Employment Discrimination Claims in Federal Court

Victims of employment discrimination face unique challenges according to recent studies of judgments and settlements in employment discrimination cases litigated in federal courts.  Empirical studies of these cases reveal that only five percent of all plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases will receive any form of litigated relief according to an article published in the University of Minnesota Law Review. By contrast, 86 percent of litigated workplace discrimination lawsuits in federal court are dismissed pursuant to summary judgment.

This data related to employees pursuing discrimination cases in federal court reveals the significant challenges employees face when pursuing claims for harassment and discrimination based on the following:

New Jersey employment discrimination law, which is comprised of the Law Against Discrimination (LAD) and Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) provides an effective statutory framework for protecting employees from discrimination in the workplace.  However, many of the difficulties facing employees reflected in these grim federal court statistics also must be overcome in on-the-job discrimination litigation involving retaliation, discrimination and disparate treatment of employees.

Differences between New Jersey and federal court employment law claims

Employees in discrimination cases face a wide range of challenges.  One common obstacle involves an employer putting an employee’s work history under the microscope, including prior and subsequent jobs.  Employment defense law firms also frequently attempt to bury employees in paperwork.

These challenges are exacerbated by a shorter discovery period in federal court.  Because plaintiffs bear a more demanding burden of proof in an employment discrimination case, the tighter discovery period is a more significant obstacle for plaintiffs.  Federal court also provides a more lenient summary judgment standard for employers so it is harder for an aggrieved employee to get to a jury.  These challenges also create an enormous disincentive for employers to settle lawsuits against employees.

Although New Jersey employment laws make it preferable to pursue an employment discrimination case in a New Jersey court, state court may not be an option when an employee seeks legal remedies against an out of state company.  Defendants typically can force a case into federal court if it involves a New Jersey resident and an out of state company.

Neil  H.  Deutsch Attorney Photo
Neil H. Deutsch

Neil H. Deutsch has been practicing law for over 35 years and is known as a skilled negotiator in employment and discrimination law. He believes in a bottom-line approach of risk analysis and cost effectiveness for his clients. "Case evaluation is something we take seriously," says Mr. Deutsch who seeks top net dollar for his…

Bruce  L.  Atkins Attorney Photo
Bruce L. Atkins
Senior Partner

Bruce L. Atkins is the Senior Managing Partner at Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt P.C., a prominent plaintiff employment law firm in the tri-state area. Mr. Atkins believes employees’ rights should be aggressively pursued when they’ve been wrongfully dealt with by their employers. He brings this philosophy to his practice when considering each case and its…

Adam  J.  Kleinfeldt Attorney Photo
Adam J. Kleinfeldt

Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigation such as discrimination, retaliation and whistle blowing matters. He has extensive experience in all phases of the litigation process. Adam has obtained significant results for his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict in a sexual…

Debra M. McGarvey Attorney Photo
Debra M. McGarvey

Debra M. McGarvey joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in December 2019. She has extensive experience defending employees and employers in state and federal court in employment litigation matters. She has represented clients on various issues arising out of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), the…

Carly Skarbnik Meredith Attorney Photo
Carly Skarbnik Meredith

Carly Skarbnik Meredith, Esq. is a Partner at the firm. Carly has focused her career exclusively in the field of employment law. She has a plethora of experience representing both employees and employers with their employment issues, needs, and concerns. She believes representing both employees and employers has made her an extremely well-rounded client advocate.…


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