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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 Attorney Photo
Neil H. Deutsch
Senior Partner

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 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
Partner

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
Attorney

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
Attorney

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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