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NJ Supreme Court Voids Non-Disparagement Provision in Employment Bias Case

In a significant decision for New Jersey workers, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in that non-disparagement clauses cannot be used to silence victims of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in employment or settlement agreements. 

Non-disparagement clauses, often included in employment contracts and settlement agreements, are designed to prevent individuals from making negative statements about their employer. While they may seem innocuous, they are sometimes used to silence employees who have legitimate grievances. The court held that such clauses are impermissible when they restrict a person’s right to speak out about discrimination, harassment or retaliation. 

The case, Christine Savage v. Township of Neptune, was brought by a police officer who claimed to have faced years of discrimination and retaliation. A settlement agreement included a non-disparagement clause that the Township of Neptune used to try to suppress Christine Savage’s subsequent public statements about the allegations she had made.

The court found that the non-disparagement clause violated Savage’s rights under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). The statute prohibits discrimination in employment and provides broad protections for employees who report or oppose discriminatory practices. The court held that the non-disparagement clause interfered with Savage’s ability to assert her rights under the NJLAD and to seek redress for the discrimination she had experienced.

This landmark ruling has profound implications for employment law in the state and signifies a major victory for workers’ rights. In addition to making it harder for employers to use non-disparagement clauses to suppress employee complaints, it sends a powerful message that employers cannot silence victims of discrimination, harassment or retaliation through contractual agreements.

The ruling also recognizes that open communication about discrimination, harassment and retaliation is vital to maintaining a fair and just work environment. By invalidating non-disparagement clauses that silence victims, the court has taken an important step towards achieving this goal.

Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in Hackensack represents New Jersey workers in a full range of employment law matters, including discrimination claims. Please call 551-245-8894 or contact us online to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys.

Neil  H.  Deutsch Attorney Photo
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…

Adam  J.  Kleinfeldt Attorney Photo
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…

Debra M. McGarvey Attorney Photo
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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