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Does Rutgers Have the Right not to Renew Someone’s Employment Contract?

The question about contract renewal is yet to be settled when that person is the former assistant coach of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights basketball team, Eric Murdock.

The scandal involving head coach Mike Rice Jr., fired for harassment and intimidation of players, began when Murdock requested copies of practice videos. These videos showed Rice cursing at players, shoving them, and throwing basketballs at their heads. Murdock made his request in a formal manner, under the Open Public Records Act. Tim Pernetti, the former athletics director who later resigned due to the scandal, asked Rice if there was any reason to be concerned about the release of the videos. Upon being told by Rice not to be concerned, the videos were released to Murdock without anyone at Rutgers viewing them before release.

Eventually the videos were broadcast by ESPN, which must have surely been an embarrassment to the Rutgers University leadership. Murdock’s employment contract was not renewed.

As is often the case when a whistleblower draws public attention to wrongs in the workplace, the whistleblower suffers retaliation by management, such as demotion or termination. But retaliation is illegal.

In a letter to the president of Rutgers University dated July 11, 2012, Murdock’s attorney put Rutgers on notice that he intended to pursue legal action against Rutgers for wrongful termination of Murdock pursuant to:

  • The Conscientious Employee Protection Act
  • The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights
  • Federal and New Jersey wage and hour laws and regulations

The above three laws serve as effective tools to protect employees who are being retaliated against for reporting workplace harassment or intimidation. If your employer is retaliating against you, learn your rights by speaking with an experienced employment retaliation attorney.

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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
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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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