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New Jersey Supreme Court Allows LAD Suit with No Victim

The goal of state and federal anti-discrimination and harassment laws has always been to discourage these practices by making harassers and their employers liable to the victims for the harm they cause. A recent N.J. Supreme Court decision, however, has allowed a claim under the state’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) in which there was no apparent victim.

  • While the case — Battaglia v. United Parcel Service, Inc. — involved several claims, one issue before the court was whether there could be a claim for sexual harassment and hostile work environment based on a worker’s derogatory and sexist comments involving women when there was no evidence that female co-workers ever heard or were aware of the comments.
  • The worker who reported the conduct was allegedly subject to retaliation for doing so and brought suit under the retaliation provisions of the LAD.
  • The trial court found that Battaglia had stated and proved a claim under the LAD and awarded substantial damages.
  • On appeal, the Appellate Division reversed the LAD verdict based on there being no evidence that female co-workers ever heard the sexist comments of which the plaintiff complained.  It ruled that there was no evidence that a hostile work environment existed.

The N.J. Supreme Court reversed the Appellate Division on this issue, finding that the anti-retaliation provisions of the LAD extended beyond “complaints about demonstrable acts of discrimination” and that the overall policy of the LAD was to promote a discrimination-free workplace. The court found, therefore, that an employee need only have a good faith belief that the conduct he or she complained of was discriminatory under the law in order to be protected from retaliation. This ruling substantially increases the scope of protections available under New Jersey employment retaliation law.

 

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Neil H. Deutsch
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About 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…

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Bruce L. Atkins
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About Bruce L. Atkins is regarded as one of New Jersey's premiere practitioners of employment and civil litigation. Mr. Atkins has also been included in the Thomson Reuters list of New Jersey Super Lawyers* in Employment Litigation since 2005. Mr. Atkins believes employees have rights that should be aggressively pursued when an employer has wrongfully dealt…

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Adam J. Kleinfeldt
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About Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigations 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 some of his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict in a…

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Robert J. Pantina
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About Robert J. Pantina joined the firm in 2018. Mr. Pantina received his B.A. from Rider University in 2008. He received his J.D. from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in 2017. While in law school, Mr. Pantina interned for the Hon. Bonnie J. Mizdol, Assignment Judge of the Superior Court of…

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Diane Englander Peyser
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About Diane Englander Peyser joined Deutsch Atkins, PC in September 2018 where she represents employees in wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment, and discrimination matters. Prior to joining Deutsch Atkins, PC, Diane represented clients in all aspects of employment law on behalf of employees involving unemployment appeals, claims of sexual harassment, LGBT discrimination, disability discrimination, FMLA, New…

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