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New Jersey Supreme Court Declares LAD Protects Sexual Abuse Victims

In a groundbreaking ruling, the New Jersey Supreme Court has held that victims of sexual abuse can bring legal action under the state Law Against Discrimination (LAD), the statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, genetic information or disability.

The ruling is significant because it extends the legal protections of the LAD to victims of sexual abuse. Under the LAD, victims can seek compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.

The case, C.V. v. Waterford Township Board of Education, involved a young girl who was sexually abused by a school bus aide repeatedly over a five-month period. It was eventually discovered that the aide had sexually abused other children as well. He pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated sexual assault and was sentenced to 10 years in prison as a “repetitive and compulsive” sex offender. The lawsuit, filed against the bus company and the school district, included claims of gender discrimination under the LAD.

The school district argued that the aide’s conduct was not gender discrimination because some of the molested children were boys. The trial court agreed and dismissed the girl’s LAD claim, finding that the aide’s conduct was driven solely by his being a compulsive sexual predator and a pedophile. The Appellate Division affirmed, finding that the sexual abuse was not due to the young girl’s gender. However, the Supreme Court reversed, finding that sexual assault is “inherently discriminatory” because it is “motivated by a desire to control, humiliate, and degrade the victim based on her gender.”

Although the underlying case concerned a school bus, which is a public accommodation, the ruling has important implications for workplace settings. The LAD prohibits employers from sexually harassing employees or retaliating against employees who report sexual harassment. The Supreme Court’s ruling means that victims of sexual assault in the workplace have a claim under the LAD.

The attorneys at Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in Hackensack have wide experience helping victims of workplace harassment in New Jersey enforce their legal rights. Call 551-245-8894 or contact us online to discuss your case.

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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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