A whistleblowing lawsuit by the former Health Officer, Director of Health and Human Services for the Township of Bloomfield, New Jersey, has been settled for $220,000. The plaintiff had been employed by Bloomfield for approximately 5 and ½ years. He discovered that the township had improperly classified him with the New Jersey Department of Personnel. When the Department contacted the township regarding the misclassification they first fired him from both the Department Head positions as well as the Health Officer position. He had held both positions since his hiring. They then provisionally hired him back as the Health Officer only, cutting his salary by $20,000 and promoted a subordinate into the Director position. He brought suit under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act. The matter was settled immediately prior to trial in Superior Court in Essex County New Jersey. The plaintiff was represented by Deutsch Atkins P.C. Bruce Atkins of the firm handled the matter.
Two female anesthesiologists, both of whom had long-term relationships with a local hospital, did not have their contracts renewed, despite the fact that their performances were exemplary. They were independent contractors, not employees. Each was well over 60. They claimed that the reasons for the non-renewal of their contracts related to gender and age. They were successful because of a little known provision of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, which makes it unlawful to refuse to contract because of age, race, national origin, disability or gender. The two anesthesiologists received a very substantial settlement for this NJ employment lawsuit after an Appellate Court reversed a grant of Summary Judgment in favor of the hospital.
A 60-year-old manager of a division of an importer suffered a stroke. While he recovered and was in a position to return to work, his employer of 10 years fired him, allegedly for poor performance. After filing a disability discrimination lawsuit in NJ, the jury concluded that his stroke was a determinative factor in the employer’s decision to terminate his employment because he was not fired before the stroke, but, only after the stroke. This New Jersey discrimination lawsuit proves the old adage that timing is everything, and can establish that an employer’s seemingly legitimate firing is pretextual. Had the employer offered the employee a reasonable severance package, reflecting his ten (10) years of service in return for a release of his claims as it should have when he was terminated, this case would have been settled without the need for a costly litigation resulting in a several hundred thousand-dollar verdict against the employer.
National Origin Discrimination
The Chief Marketing Officer of a Korean manufacturer of telephone equipment, who had been with the Company for many years and received numerous outstanding performance reviews and awards, was passed over for the position of Chief Operating Officer of one of the Company’s major divisions. While he was employed, he asserted, through counsel, a discrimination lawsuit in NJ, citing national origin discrimination. The Company investigated and although denying liability, gave him a severance package approximating two (2) years compensation, including salary, bonus, incentive compensation, health insurance benefits and a good recommendation. Good faith negotiations were promoted by a comprehensive demand letter sent to the heads of the U.S. and Korean companies. The negotiations were conducted and completed within thirty (30) days.
Deutsch Atkins, P.C. successfully defended a business owner in an action by a former investor seeking a fifty percent ownership interest in a limited liability company that they were found to have abandoned when they did not perform their contractual obligation under the investment agreement. On appeal, Deutsch Atkins, P.C. successfully argued that despite a finding that plaintiffs had abandoned the limited liability company and the investment agreement, that defendants were entitled to counsel fees pursuant to a prevailing party clause contained in the investment agreement. A copy of the Appellate Division’s decision in this New Jersey employment lawsuit is available at http://lawlibrary.rutgers.edu/courts/appellate/a4526-05.opn.html.
Wrongful Termination Retaliation
Deutsch Atkins obtained a jury verdict for retaliation in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination in Bergen County Superior Court for $935,000 plus attorneys’ fees and costs. Bruce Atkins and Carly Skarbnik Meredith were on trial for six and a half weeks in front of Judge Estela De La Cruz. The Defendants were Hudson City Savings Bank (now M & T Bank) and the Bank’s former President, Denis Salamone. The client was a 36 year employee. She was terminated within seven weeks of raising an internal complaint of discrimination.