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Discrimination Whistleblowers Deserve Retaliation Protection Even When No Victim Is Identified

Discrimination law in New Jersey was made clearer on July 17, 2013 with a New Jersey Supreme Court decision against the United Parcel Service (UPS).

In October 2005, a UPS manager, Michael Battaglia, reported to his superiors about allegedly sexually suggestive remarks made by another employee, Wayne DeCraine, about a female employee, despite the fact that the female employee was not in the room and did not hear the remarks. Per UPS policy designed to improve employees’ workplace behavior, DeCraine was required to write a report of the incident and include an explanation as to why his behavior was unacceptable.

After some time passed, DeCraine was promoted and became Battaglia’s manager. DeCraine allegedly continued to make lewd comments about women employees and Battaglia continued to make reports to DeCraine’s superiors. As a result, Battaglia was demoted.

Battaglia filed a lawsuit against UPS for illegal retaliation  under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination Act. He won his lawsuit with a jury trial in Superior Court in March 2009. The jury awarded Battaglia a total of $1 million:

  • $500,000 for economic loss
  • $500,000 for emotional distress (subsequently reduced to $205,000 by the judge)

UPS challenged the verdict, and won on appeal. The appellate court based its decision on the fact that since no female employee had heard the offensive remarks, there was no victim.

However, when the N.J. Supreme Court heard the case, the judges ruled unanimously to overturn the appellate ruling and reinstate the jury verdict in favor of Battaglia and against UPS. The Court held that so long as the conduct complained of is a violation of the Law Against Discrimination, it does not matter if a victim is identified or not.

If you are being retaliated against for reporting workplace discrimination, learn your rights by speaking with an experienced discrimination lawyer.

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Neil H. Deutsch
Retired

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
Senior Partner

About Bruce L. Atkins is regarded as one of New Jersey’s premier practitioners of employment and civil litigation. He has been selected to the New Jersey Super Lawyers prestigious list every year since 2005.  This honor, bestowed upon a recipient by the votes of his peers, is a powerful nod to the skill Mr. Atkins…

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Adam J. Kleinfeldt
Partner

About Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, 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…

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Diane Englander Peyser
Attorney

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

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Debra M. McGarvey
Attorney

About 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),…

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