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Court Cases in the News

A state-by-state review of court cases pertaining to workplace rights.

Select your state from the map below or from this list. (If your state does not have any court cases, then the page will not scroll down when you click on the state.)

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New Jersey

Ugly Divorce’ No Grounds for Getting Fired, State High Court Rules

Source: Jacob Gershman, Wall Street Journal
Date: June 23, 2016

Employees may not be fired for getting divorced, even when a marital separation threatens to turn “ugly,” New Jersey’s highest court ruled. In a wrongful discrimination case, the New Jersey Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of a former employee of a non-profit group that provides emergency medical transportation and rescue services. The plaintiff, Robert Smith, had been employed as director of operations of the Millville Rescue Squad. He claims he was fired in 2006 after informing his supervisor that he was “engaged in an affair with a volunteer worker, and that he and his wife, who also worked for the rescue squad, were separated and about to commence divorce proceedings,” according to the court’s opinion.

N.J. Supreme Court Allows Wage Discrimination Lawsuit to Proceed by 3 Seton Hall Professors

Source: Peggy Ackermann, NJ.com
Date: November 26, 2010

Three female Seton Hall professors can pursue a lawsuit alleging the university paid younger instructors and male professors better salaries, the state Supreme Court ruled today.

'Too Sensual' for Promotion?

Source: Megan Gibson, Time
Date: November 15, 2010

Former Devereux Foundation employee, Amy-Erin Blakely, is alleging she was fired because she complained she was being harassed when she reportedly was told she was "too sensual" for promotion.

EEOC Sues Princeton Healthcare System for Disability Discrimination

Source: Press Release, EEOC
Date: August 12, 2010

NEWARK, N.J. - Princeton HealthCare System, which operates a hospital and provides other health care services, violated federal law by failing to reasonably accommodate the needs of its employees who needed medical leave, and then firing them because of their disabilities, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

U.S. says IT firm underpaid H-1B workers

Source: Patrick Thibodeau, Computer World
Date: February 24, 2010

Labor Department seeks $1.9M in back wages and penalty payment from N.J. company

New Sexual Harassment Suits Go Beyond The Pool, Allege Harrah's Knew and Covered up

Source: Lynda Cohen, Press of Atlantic City
Date: February 9, 2010

Harrah's not only tolerated sexual harassment but covered it up, alleges a new set of lawsuits against the casino.

Plumsted, Ex-officer Settle Sexual Harassment Suit for $275,000

Source: Keith Ruscitti, Asbury Park Press
Date: February 5, 2010

The township has agreed to pay a former policewoman $275,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit she filed against her superior officer.

Former Student at Peddie School in Hightstown is Awarded $64K in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Source: Chris Megerian/Statehouse Bureau, NJ.com
Date: January 27, 2010

When Brittany Tarabour would awake in her dorm room at the exclusive Peddie School in Hightstown, harassing e-mails would be waiting for her.

Suit Alleges Race Bias in Campbell Soup Employee Promotions

Source: Charles Toutant, New Jersey Law Journal
Date: July 15, 2009

A suit filed in federal court in Camden, N.J., charges that Campbell Soup Co. routinely passes over black employees in favor of less-qualified whites when promoting account executives.

Religious Slurs May Amount to Hostile Workplace, N.J. High Court Says

Source: Michael Booth, New Jersey Law Journal
Date: August 5, 2008

Workers taunted about their religion or ancestry are entitled to the same legal protection as the victims of sex, race and ethnic harassment, the New Jersey Supreme Court said in the case of a police officer whose colleagues called him a "dirty Jew." The unanimous court on July 31 reinstated a verdict against the Haddonfield Police Department and a number of its officers and patrolmen for directing anti-Semitic taunts, harassment and slurs at Patrolman Jason Cutler.

NJ high court: Annoying not harassment

Source: Tom Hester Jr., Associated Press
Date: August 4, 2008

An annoying person isn't necessarily a sexual harasser, according to the New Jersey Supreme Court, which on Monday ruled two women who were students at the Princeton Theological Seminary cannot sue the school for harassment. The women claimed an alumnus in his late-60s who lived in seminary-owned housing harassed them with requests for dates in 1999 and 2000 and the seminary didn't act to stop him.

Workplace law also protects gay students

Source: Kathleen Carroll, Leslie Brody, North Jersey Online
Date: February 22, 2007

The state law that protects adults in the workplace because of their sexual orientation also applies to students harassed in schools, the state Supreme Court ruled. The decision stems from a lawsuit brought in 1999 by a teen who said he suffered years of anti-gay abuse at the hands of schoolmates. The court ruled that schools can be held liable under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination unless they take "reasonable" steps to prevent such harassment.

Jury finds Curtiss-Wright liable in gender bias case

Source: David Voreacos, Bloomberg News, North Jersey Online
Date: February 15, 2007

Curtiss-Wright, a maker of aircraft electronics, lost a $9 million verdict when a New Jersey jury concluded that a woman executive was passed over for a promotion and fired because of her gender. Joyce Quinlan won $4.56 million in punitive damages this week in state Superior Court in Newark, 4 days after jurors awarded her the same amount in compensatory damages. She said she was denied the top human resources job and fired a year later in retaliation for filing a sex bias suit.

New Jersey court backs full rights for gay couples

Source: David W. Chen, New York Times
Date: October 25, 2006

New Jersey's highest court ruled that gay couples are entitled to the same legal rights and financial benefits as heterosexual couples, but ordered the Legislature to decide whether their unions must be called marriage or could be known by another name. In a decision filled with bold and sweeping pronouncements about equality, the New Jersey Supreme Court gave the Democratic-controlled Legislature 180 days to either expand existing laws or come up with new ones to provide gay couples benefits including tuition assistance, survivors' benefits under workers' compensation laws, and spousal privilege in criminal trials.

Supersize suit targets Borgata

Source: Donald Wittkowski, Press of Atlantic City
Date: January 31, 2006

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa was hit with a $70 million lawsuit Monday that claims the gaming hall discriminated against female employees in its zeal to keep its skimpily attired cocktail servers slim and sexy. The litigation stems from the casino's controversial policy, enacted last year, that prohibits the "Borgata Babes" cocktail servers from gaining more than 7% of their body weight. Two former Borgata Babes, Renee Gaud and Trisha Hart, allege in the state Superior Court suit that the casino created a hostile workplace tainted by discrimination and sexual stereotypes. Borgata and its managers are accused of discriminating against female employees "under the guise of a highly offensive and demeaning personal appearance policy."

Jersey accused of turning back clock in workplace bias

Source: Kate Coscarelli, Star-Ledger
Date: December 8, 2005

The state's opposition to a Superior Court judge's lawsuit charging gender discrimination and rampant sexism on the Essex County bench undoes 60 years of progress in fighting workplace abuse, according to court papers made public yesterday. Lawyers for the state judiciary argue the judge's claims are baseless and her appeal should be denied. The roughly 200-pages of documents unsealed by [an] Appellate Division judge are the latest development in a case that has been kept secret by the courts for the past several months. The suit has captured the attention of the state's legal community and provides a glimpse of the judiciary's internal workings and rivalries.

NJ Supreme Court: pregnant casino worker's firing not unlawful

Source: Associated Press, Newsday
Date: July 25, 2005

A casino that fired a woman whose problem-plagued pregnancy caused her to run out of leave time did not violate the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination in doing so, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday. In a 4-3 ruling, the justices--overturning a lower court's ruling--said former Atlantic City Hilton employee Christina Gerety was treated no differently than other Hilton employees whose medical conditions caused them to miss more than six months of work in a year. In a dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Deborah Poritz said the casino's policy--while gender-neutral on its face--discriminates against women.

Waitresses file discrimination complaint

Source: John Curran (AP), Newsday
Date: April 28, 2005

Two casino cocktail waitresses have filed a discrimination complaint over their employer's weight-limit policy, saying it unfairly burdens women and older employees. Trisha Hart and Renee Gaud--two Borgata Babes, as the waitresses at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa are known--filed their complaint with the state Division of Civil Rights. It was made public Wednesday. Under the Borgata policy, the casino can fire waitresses who gain more than 7 percent of their body weight and cannot shed it during a three-month leave of absence.

Questions arise of possible bias at drug maker

Source: Jonathan D. Glater, New York Times
Date: February 23, 2005

At Johnson & Johnson, the director of equal opportunity was worried. The company, she warned in a memo written in the late 1990's, had "areas of vulnerability" to employment discrimination lawsuits. As it turned out, she was right. And the memo, intended to prod Johnson & Johnson into making improvements, could now end up serving as an unintended legal weapon against it. That memo, along with other documents submitted to a federal court in New Jersey, emerged publicly yesterday in support of a motion to certify a lawsuit filed in 2001 by several African-American and Hispanic employees as a class action. The documents open a rare window into the workings of a big company coping with how to hire and promote fairly.

Weight policy fallout unclear

Source: William H. Sokolic, Courier-Post
Date: February 24, 2005

The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa [in New Jersey] has put forth a near-perfect public persona since it opened in July 2003. Not so much anymore. The casino hotel last week acknowledged having a weight-limit policy for cocktail servers. The policy bans male and female servers from gaining more than 7 percent of their weight. The first legal action surfaced Monday, when a male applicant for a position filed suit in Ocean County. Successful challenges to weight restrictions have depended on proving discrimination based on disability, gender or age. Eric Urbano, a Newark lawyer who represents James McNally, the Manahawkin man who filed the lawsuit, said Borgata violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act and state statutes.

Home Depot managers seek lawsuit status

Source: Jeffrey Gold, Associated Press, Macon Telegraph
Date: December 14, 2004

Current and former assistant managers at Home Depot stores are seeking class-action status for a lawsuit that claims they were unfairly denied overtime pay and pension benefits by being improperly classified as managers. If approved by a federal judge, the lawsuit would cover more than 500 current and former employees nationwide. The charges were denied by Atlanta-based Home Depot Inc., the nation's largest home improvement retailer, in papers filed last week in U.S. District Court in Newark [New Jersey].

NYTimes workers charge racism, anti-Semitism

Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Baltimore Jewish Times
Date: December 12, 2004

Nine New York Times employees, including a Jewish man, are charging that they were subjected to racial and religious discrimination at the paper's Edison, N.J., printing plant. Their lawsuit includes complaints that supervisors aimed racial and religious epithets at employees--or ignored such epithets coming from others--and that Hispanic, black, and Jewish employees were denied seniority rights, promotions and pay scales commensurate with their years of service as well as plum assignments that would have enabled them to pick up overtime pay. The Times management has denied the allegations.

Reverse discrimination

Source: Daniel Pulliam, GovExec.com
Date: October 22, 2004

A Federal Aviation Administration employee recently settled an employment discrimination case where he said he was passed over for promotions because of his gender and race. Michael C. Ryan said that between 1995 and 1997 he was denied eight promotions. After complaining to the FAA, Ryan went to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Nine years later, a formal consent order gives Ryan the position he wanted. Ryan, a white male, said he was qualified for the promotions, but was passed over by people with less experience because he was not a woman or a minority. The agency agree[d] to start a three-step comprehensive review of its programs and policies on hiring and promotion.

A.C. firm must pay fired trio $4 million

Source: John Shiffman, Philadelphia Inquirer
Date: July 4, 2004

No one ever solved the mystery of who stole $4,000 from a desk at the telemarketing offices of a Jersey Shore time-share, or even whether any crime was really committed at all. But this much is known: Three company employees were fired over the alleged theft. Four years later, the same three suspects stand to share a $4 million judgment against the company. A federal jury delivered the multimillion-dollar award last month, concluding that the employer, Flagship Resort Development Corp., of Atlantic City, fired the workers because they refused to take lie-detector tests. A 1988 law prohibits companies from asking employees to take a polygraph. But such cases rarely make it to trial, say lawyers who have researched the issue, in part because the law is so seldom violated.

Charge filed against Johnson & Johnson for using discriminatory credit checks to allegedly deny African American applicants jobs

Source: Business Wire
Date: June 16, 2004

Brenda Matthews is filing a charge of discrimination against Johnson & Johnson with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for violating Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 by refusing to hire her and other minority job seekers on account of race. Attorney Adam T. Klein of Outten & Golden LLP said, "Johnson & Johnson's use of credit checks is racial discrimination. Federal civil rights laws prohibit employers from using credit scores and other selection criteria without any relationship to job performance that penalize minority job applicants."

Who should sign a noncompete?

Source: Jane M. Von Bergen, Philadelphia Inquirer
Date: May 30, 2004

When graphic designer Karol Maw was fired after she refused to sign an agreement promising not to work for competitors or customers, she took the company to court. Maw's closely watched New Jersey case has ramifications for businesses and employees in New Jersey and other states, particularly now as the reviving labor market is expected to lead to job churn. At issue is whether companies can fire employees like Maw who will not sign noncompete agreements. Behind that are the conflicting interests of businesses, which want to safeguard company secrets, and employees, who do not want limits on their abilities to earn a living. Earlier this month, the New Jersey Supreme Court said Maw's company was justified in firing her.

Gay Haldeon cop files bias suit

Source: Associated Press, Newsday.com
Date: May 27, 2004

A [New Jersey] police sergeant has sued the borough and several officials, claiming he was passed over for promotion because he is gay. Sgt. James Len filed suit Wednesday in state Superior Court against the borough, Mayor Ken Pengitore, Councilman Ayman Mamkej and Police Chief Harold Engold Jr. Len is seeking punitive and compensatory damages, claiming he was subjected to a hostile work environment because of his sexual orientation. He claims officers rigged the evaluation process to prevent him from being promoted to lieutenant. He also says fellow officers harassed him and made anti-gay comments.

New Jersey Court Rejects Whistleblower Claim for Refusal to Sign Non-compete Agreement

Source: Jackson Lewis LLP
Date: May 12, 2004

The New Jersey Supreme Court has resolved an important debate regarding an employee's ability to use the state's whistleblowing statute, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act, to challenge an employment termination for refusing to sign a non-compete agreement. In Maw v. Advanced Clinical Communications, Inc. (NJ Sup Ct, May 4, 2004), the court held that an employee's private dispute concerning a non-compete clause in an employment agreement does not implicate a violation of a clear mandate of public policy as contemplated by CEPA. As such, a termination resulting from an employer's requirement that an existing employee execute a non-compete agreement as a condition of continued employment was not actionable under CEPA.

Race and Sex Bias Suit Is Filed Against a New Jersey Utility

Source: Matthew C. McCue and Ronald Smothers, New York Times
Date: April 14, 2004

Citing inappropriate and offensive behavior at the state's largest electric utility, Public Service Electric and Gas Company, 11 current and former employees filed a racial and sex discrimination lawsuit Tuesday in state court. The plaintiffs, who include plant floor workers, secretaries and executives whose employment with the company ranges from 2 to 36 years, maintain that only white male employees are able to advance into high-level supervisory roles. "We demand a change in PSE&G culture, starting from the top down," said John R. Smith, 57, the regional public affairs manager for the utility. Mr. Smith, who is black, is one of two prominent plaintiffs in the lawsuit. "This company has long refused to pay minority employees a salary equal to their white counterparts."

Domestic Worker Reaches Settlement with Employer

Source: Asjylyn Loder, Women's E-News
Date: April 11, 2004

This week, a domestic worker and her previous employer settled a case brought in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey for $30,000. The worker sued Pui Yin Ma and Sau Chum Ho for back wages and overtime, claiming that they paid her as little as $1.60 per hour. But the troubles of the worker, who calls herself Evelyn, are far from over. When Evelyn left her employers last May with the help of Damayan Migrant Workers Association, a New York-based Philippine worker's solidarity group, she violated her B-1 work visa, leaving her vulnerable to deportation and without permission to work elsewhere. According to the rules of the visa, Evelyn was not allowed to leave her previous employer who sponsored her entry into the United States. Evelyn has since joined the ranks of undocumented workers, taking a job as a part-time nanny with another family. She now shares an apartment in northern New Jersey with two roommates. Without permission to live and work in the U.S., Evelyn fears deportation.

Atlantic City Seeks Another Chance to Appeal $2.1 Million Bias Award

Source: Associated Press, Newsday
Date: April 9, 2004

The city will once again try to appeal a $2.1 million bias award given to two parking enforcement officers who said they were paid less than white co-workers and racially harassed by a supervisor for several years. A state appellate court ruled Monday that the city must pay the award and questioned why Denise Mack and Pamela Mitchell had not received their money. The city was supposed to make the payments by March 15, but it failed to do so because the appeal was still pending at the time. Karen Williams, an attorney who is now representing the city in the case, said Thursday that the appeal was rejected because it was not filed in time. She will ask the panel to reconsider that decision and, if that request is denied, the officers will be paid immediately.

White Worker Sues FAA, Alleging Reverse Discrimination

Source: Associated Press, Newsday
Date: April 7, 2004

A white employee is suing the Federal Aviation Administration, claiming he was repeatedly denied promotions due to reverse discrimination. Michael C. Ryan, a computer specialist at the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township, claims a co-worker who worked for one of the officials who decided on promotions told him he is "the wrong color for the job." The lawsuit, filed in 2002, is due to go to trial in U.S. District Court on April 28. It alleges Ryan was passed over for eight promotions between 1995 and 1997, seven of which went to minorities or women.

Alleged Sexual Harasser Wins Battle for Benefits

Source: Shannon P. Duffy, The Legal Intelligencer
Date: April 6, 2004

A company president who was fired in the wake of sexual harassment accusations has scored a second victory in his court battle to win back the salary, perks and benefits promised in his contract now that the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected the company's argument that enforcing such a contract would violate public policy. In Fields v. Thompson Printing Co. Inc., a unanimous three-judge panel found that since Gerald E. Fields' contract clearly promised that his benefits would continue even if he were fired -- and included no "conduct-related exception" to that clause -- the company was essentially asking the court "to save it from its own failure to include such a forfeiture clause." Writing for the court, U.S. Circuit Judge Marjorie O. Rendell said that a ruling for the company "would essentially force us to read clauses thought desirable from a policy standpoint into every employment contract. This we cannot do."

Atlantic City Loses Bid to Overturn $2.1 Million Bias Award

Source: Associated Press, Newsday
Date: April 6, 2004

The city must pay $2.1 million awarded to two parking enforcement officers who said they were paid less than white co-workers and racially harassed by a supervisor for several years, a state appellate court has ruled. Meanwhile, Mayor Lorenzo Langford and City Council members have been told to appear in state Superior Court on Thursday to face contempt charges for failing to make the payments to Denise Mack and Pamela Mitchell. A judge had ordered that the pair be paid by March 15, but the city failed to do so because the appeal was still pending at the time. The appellate court's ruling was announced Monday. The two officers, who are both black, were awarded $1.4 million in punitive damages last October by a jury that also gave individual awards of $181,000 to Mitchell and $206,000 to Mack. The city also was ordered to pay their legal fees.

Food Service Company Settles EEOC Bias Suit

Source: Wayne Parry (AP), Newsday
Date: March 31, 2004

Aramark Corp., the food services company, settled a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that a Hispanic employee was unfairly passed over for promotion. Under terms of the settlement announced Wednesday, Aramark will pay Samuel Planas $90,000, provide a neutral job reference for him for future prospective employers and give its management staff in the Northeast a training session on federal employment laws. The EEOC filed suit last May on Planas' behalf, alleging the company violated federal civil rights laws by retaliating against Planas because he complained of being denied a promotion.

$1.6 Million Suit Alleges Gender Discrimination

Source: Lindsay McGregor, Daily Princetonian
Date: March 22, 2004

Former chemical engineering assistant professor Lynn Russell filed a $1.6 million suit last week against the University, alleging gender discrimination and breach of contract. The suit claims chemical engineering chair Pablo Debenedetti discriminated against female junior faculty and undermined Russell's tenure application after she complained about his behavior. Communications director Lauren Robinson-Brown '85 said the lawsuit hasn't been served to the University. "Neither President Tilghman nor Provost Gutman nor anyone else in the administration would tolerate gender discrimination," she said. Regardless of the outcome, the lawsuit may prompt introspection after last semester's release of a University report calling for more women to be represented in the science and engineering faculty. The suit claims that Debenedetti "bolstered, exaggerated, and/or misrepresented undergraduate student complaints" against Russell in retaliation for her complaints that he treated female faculty members in a "disparate fashion."

National Guardsman Wins Sex Bias Settlement Against New Jersey

Source: Henry Gottlieb, New Jersey Law Journal
Date: March 3, 2004

A National Guard pilot who said fellow flyers sexually harassed him and retaliated when he complained received $690,000 to settle his lawsuit. The settlement, announced Feb. 26, is one of the largest paid to a state employee suing under the Law Against Discrimination. Robert Scott, a member of New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing in Atlantic County, claimed that his colleagues, mistakenly thinking he was gay, belittled him with rude sexual remarks and made him an outcast. When he reported the treatment and complained that a black pilot was being harassed, too, supervisors criticized him for not being a team player, gave him bad efficiency reports and grounded him, says his lawyer, Christopher Lenzo, of Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer in Woodbridge, N.J. Scott's woes multiplied when the officer who was the target of his complaints was promoted to a position that made him Scott's supervisor.

N.J. Air Guard Pilot Gets $690K for Suit

Source: Josh Margolin, Star-Ledger (NJ)
Date: February 26, 2004

The state has paid $690,000 to a fighter pilot in the New Jersey Air Guard to settle claims that he was subjected to sexual discrimination. Lt. Col. Robert Scott, a full-time pilot with American Airlines, sued the Guard, its top officers and the state five years ago, alleging he was harassed and humiliated by fellow Guardsmen who wrongly accused him of being gay. Scott said his superiors at the 177th Fighter Wing grounded him, blackballed him and cut his pay after he took his complaints up the chain of command. The allegations leveled by Scott and a second pilot, Capt. James Gordon, led to a major shakeup in the leadership of the 177th, based in Pomona. The payout from the settlement, completed earlier this month, is the largest for a harassment or discrimination complaint against the state Guard. "It shows that the men and women who put on uniforms to defend our civil rights don't lose their civil rights just because they chose to put that uniform on," said Scott's attorney, Christopher Lenzo.

Abercrombie & Fitch Accused of 'Whites-Only' Hiring Policy

Source: Shannon P. Duffy, The Legal Intelligencer
Date: November 20, 2003

Preppie sportswear retailer Abercrombie & Fitch was hit with a nationwide class action race discrimination lawsuit on Wednesday by a team of Philadelphia lawyers who say the sales force in its 600-plus stores is "overwhelmingly white." The lead plaintiff in the suit, Brandy Hawk, claims she was told by an interviewer in May 2003 that she would be recommended for a job at the A&F store in the Cherry Hill Mall, but that she was later told that she was passed over because she did not have the "image" that A&F wanted to present. In a press conference Wednesday, plaintiffs' lawyers said they believe Hawk's experience was typical of qualified minority candidates who are routinely rejected by A&F for sales jobs or relegated to less visible positions in store stock rooms.

Supreme Court Limits Disability Rights

Source: Associated Press, ABC News
Date: November 12, 2003

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that the federal government does not owe financial subsidies to people whose physical or mental disabilities allow them to do only jobs that no longer exist. The court ruled in the case of a disabled former elevator operator who applied for federal Social Security disability payments after her employer installed new elevators and eliminated her job in 1995. Pauline Thomas had heart and back ailments, among other health problems. Poor health had already forced Thomas to change jobs once from housekeeping to running an old, manual elevator at the Hudson County administration building in Jersey City, N.J.

9 Immigrants Arrested In Raid File Lawsuit Against Wal-Mart

Source: Steven Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: November 7, 2003

Nine Mexican immigrants who worked as janitors at Wal-Marts in New Jersey sued the company on Wednesday, accusing Wal-Mart and its cleaning contractors of failing to pay overtime, withhold taxes and make required workers' compensation contributions. The plaintiffs, who face deportation for being in the country illegally, also accuse Wal-Mart and its contractors of discriminating against them by giving them lower wages and fewer benefits than other workers because of their national origin.

Wal-Mart Faces Class-Action Suit

Source: Steven Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: November 11, 2003

Lawyers filed a class-action suit against Wal-Mart yesterday in New Jersey, saying it violated federal racketeering laws by conspiring with cleaning contractors to cheat immigrant janitors out of wages. The suit, in Federal District Court in Newark, seeks to represent thousands of workers who washed and waxed floors nightly in Wal-Mart department stores. It says the company and its contractors violated RICO, the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, by conspiring not to pay the workers overtime. The suit says the cleaners at hundreds of stores generally earned $325 to $500 for working seven nights a week, usually for 56 hours or more each week. The case was filed 18 days after federal agents raided 60 stores in 21 states to round up 250 janitors described as illegal immigrants. Last week, executives at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, acknowledged that federal prosecutors had sent a target letter saying the company faced a grand jury investigation over the immigrants.

Atlantic City Seeks New Trial in Discrimination Case

Source: William H. Sokolic, South Jersey News
Date: October 23, 2003

The city filed a motion asking for a new trial in the case of two parking enforcement officers who claimed they were targets of racist comments and received lower pay than white co-workers. The city also seeks a reduction in the $1.7 million judgment a jury awarded to workers Denise Mack and Pamela Mitchell. Meanwhile, attorneys for Mack and Mitchell filed their own motion. In it, they seek relief from any taxes associated with the $1.4 million in punitive damages and $387,000 in compensatory damages the jury awarded them on Oct. 2.

Former Martha Stewart Employee Files Religious Bias Suit

Source: Samuel Maull (AP), Newsday
Date: October 20, 2003

A former employee of Martha Stewart's company filed a lawsuit Monday charging that he was fired because he is Jewish. Avner S. Elizarov, 36, of Bayonne, N.J., says in court papers that Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. "discriminated against him because of his religion and failed to reasonably accommodate his religious practices." Elizarov, a computer software employee who earned $110,000 a year, says he began work at the company on June 24, 2002. The harassment started soon after his father died on Oct. 11, 2002, and he became more religiously observant, court papers say

Federal Part of [New Jersey State] Senator's Discrimination Suit Dropped

Source: Michael Daigle and Peggy Wright, Daily Record (NJ)
Date: October 15, 2003

The federal discrimination case filed against [New Jersey] state Sen. Anthony Bucco by his former chief of staff has ended, but the sexual harassment and other charges included in the original suit will be refiled in state Superior Court, according to an attorney in the case. Fleishman sued Bucco, R-Boonton, in November 2001, claiming that he sexually harassed her and was responsible for the loss of her job at the Lake Hopatcong Commission. She also named the New Jersey Senate, the state of New Jersey, the lake commission and several of its members.

Sexual-Harassment Suit Filed Against Store in Rio Grande

Source: Johanna Duerr, Press of Atlantic City
Date: October 7, 2003

An organization that promotes equality in the workplace has filed suit against the food-store chain Save-A-Lot, which operates a Rio Grande store where two male employees claim they were sexually harassed. The two men, David Mizerek and David Beck, lost their jobs in 2002 - one was fired, the other quit - and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims both were due to sexual harassment, according to the lawsuit filed at the U.S. District Court in Camden last week. The suit was filed against Moran Foods, a wholesaler and retailer doing business as Save-A-Lot. Mizerek and Beck were both assistant store managers and said the store manager Denise Morton sexually harassed them during their time at the Rio Grande store, according to the lawsuit. The EEOC is requesting financial compensation for wrongful termination and emotional damage.

Bechtel Sued Over Alleged Bias vs. Iraqi

Source: Wayne Parry (AP), Atlanta Journal Constitution
Date: October 3, 2003

Bechtel Corp., which stands to reap as much as $680 million in contracts to rebuild Iraq, is being sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which claims the company discriminated against and fired an Iraqi employee in New Jersey. The suit, filed on behalf of Sahir Kizy of Royal Oak, Mich., Tuesday in federal court in Newark, alleged the company did nothing to stop discrimination and harassment against him after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and fired him in June 2002. The San Francisco-based company denies the accusations, and says Kizy was let go after his temporary work assignment ended.

Restaurant Is Ordered to Pay Ex-Waitresses $3.4 Million

Source: Maria Newman, New York Times
Date: September 27, 2003

A Federal District Court judge in Newark has ordered the owners of a Chinese restaurant in northern New Jersey to pay nearly $3.4 million to two former waitresses who claimed that they had been deprived of wages and tips, forced to work long hours and housed in a substandard and crowded apartment. The award was made to the two women, immigrants from the Fujian Province in China, after the owners of the restaurant, the King Chef Buffet in Wayne, entered no arguments on their behalf. "We hope it sends a signal to other employers who hire immigrant women that they simply can't abuse their work force in this way," said Lenora Lapidus, director of the Women's Rights Project with the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit.

Law Schools Sue Over Military Recruitment

Source: Jon Passaro, Daily Pennsylvanian
Date: September 29, 2003

A major lawsuit was recently filed in an effort to end forced military recruitment on law school campuses across the country. The suit, filed in the Third Circuit against the Department of Defense, is being supported by law schools and professors from around the country. It was brought in response to the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays. The litigants hope to strike down the so-called Solomon Amendment, which ties federal funding to on-campus military recruitment. According to the law, if universities -- or their law schools -- do not allow military recruitment on their campuses, the government can withhold millions of dollars in funding per year to each university.

EEOC Brings Suit Against Bancroft

Source: NJ.com
Date: September 17, 2003

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Bancroft Brain Injury Services, claiming a 47-year-old man was denied a promotion by the Mullica Hill agency due to his age and race. Kolma Tobey, of Woodlyn, Pa., was employed by Bancroft since 1995. Since 2000, Tobey, who is African-American, applied three times for promotion to program manager and each time the position was given to a younger, white employee, according to the suit.

Tropicana Sued for Discrimination Against Pregnant Woman

Source: Madelaine Vitale, The Press of Atlantic City
Date: September 12, 2003

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the Tropicana Casino Resort alleging it violated a pregnant employee's civil rights when the casino fired her shortly after she informed her boss that she had to work from home due to pregnancy complications. "They called me up on the phone and fired me 24 hours after I told them and said it was performance related," said Elizabeth Jaquith, 32, of Lancaster, Pa. "They said I was in my probationary period." Jaquith worked as a sales manager for the Tropicana from October 29, 2002, until Jan. 15, 2003, when she was told she had to go.

$565G Award Cleared for Harassed Teacher

Source: Ken Thorbourne , The Jersey Journal
Date: August 19, 2003

Doris Green, a former Jersey City science teacher, is in line to receive $565,000, after a ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court. And the Jersey City Public Schools district is $300,000 poorer - at a minimum. On Aug. 11, the court decided that Green is entitled to the money, having proved to a jury's and the Appellate Court's satisfaction that she was harassed by a former supervisor after refusing to participate in an unethical scheme, to the point that she developed illnesses that ended her 30-year teaching career. The Supreme Court upheld a February 2000 jury verdict and an Appellate Court decision awarding Green $265,000 in compensatory damages and $300,000 in punitive damages.

Supercuts Agrees to Settle Racial Bias Case for $3.5 Million

Source: D.E. L?Ger, Miami Herald
Date: August 14, 2003

A former Supercuts manager, who complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about a plan to reduce the number of black employees at the hair salon chain, paved the way for a $3.5 million settlement announced Wednesday. Richard Quick, of Melbourne, was a regional manager in charge of 76 Supercuts stores in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Puerto Rico when he balked at a Supercuts directive ''to balance the platform'' by trimming the number of black workers employed by the Minneapolis-based chain and was fired, the EEOC said.

New Trial Ordered for $3 Million Discrimination Verdict

Source: Associated Press, Newsday
Date: August 11, 2003

A new jury should decide if the state must pay $3 million to a prison guard who was sexually harassed, the state Supreme Court said Monday in a ruling that clarifies how juries should determine such verdicts. Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz wrote that the trial judge was wrong when he told the jury to decide if upper management had been involved in the case, but gave no direction on how to make that judgment. A jury found that Robert L. Lockley, a guard at Mid-State Correctional Facility at Fort Dix, was sexually harassed by Ronda Turner and other female co-workers because he refused to have sex with her.

Judge Challenges Report in Her Gender Bias Suit

Source: Kate Coscarelli, Star-Ledger (NJ)
Date: July 18, 2003

The integrity of an investigation into whether there is gender bias toward female judges in the Superior Court in Newark is at the center of a lawsuit filed by a sitting judge, lawyers in the case say. Tapes of at least 19 of 31 interviews conducted during the investigation do not exist or are not complete, lawyers for Judge Francine Schott say. The tapes were used to help generate a report that concluded that there was no basis to the allegations of bias. The merits of the investigation "are suspect and under New Jersey law that entitles us to the report so that we can prove that they ... didn't take the prompt and effective remedial procedures," said Walter Lucas, one of Schott's attorneys.

Sheriff's Officer Wins Part of Bias Case

Source: Renee Winkler, Courier Post (NJ)
Date: July 17, 2003

The Camden County Sheriff's Department did not create a hostile work environment for a female officer, but it did retaliate against her when she filed a lawsuit claiming gender discrimination, a jury found Wednesday. The jury of four men and four women awarded $15,000 in compensatory damages to Kathleen Wilson. The same jurors will return Tuesday to hear more arguments before deciding if punitive damages are appropriate.

Parsippany to Pay Whistleblower

Source: James A. Duffy, Daily Record (NJ)
Date: June 25, 2003

Former Parsippany police officer Jeffrey Jusko, a self-professed whistleblower who claimed departmental harassment forced his resignation in 2001, reached a settlement with township officials just before his federal court case was to begin in Newark on Tuesday. Jusko was seeking about $100,000 in back pay and $130,000 in past legal fees and damages for emotional distress. Jusko's attorney, Jon Green, declined to discuss terms of the 11th-hour settlement on Tuesday, but called the accord a victory. "I thought we did as well as we could have had we tried the case, or close to it," Green said. "I thought it was a good settlement. My client did compromise somewhat under the circumstances.

Ex-Cop Settles Lawsuit on Firing

Source: Al Frank, Star-Ledger (NJ)
Date: June 25, 2003

The ex-Parsippany police sergeant who said he was fired because he was a whistle-blower settled his federal lawsuit against his former superiors yesterday. Jeffrey Jusko of Byram agreed to accept a $797,500 payment in the settlement, attorneys reported to U.S. District Judge William Martini in Newark. Terms were reached just hours before a trial was to begin in the civil suit against Chief Michael Filippello, Deputy Chief William Makowitz and retired Deputy Chief Dennis Dowd. In their court papers, the defendants say Jusko was fired in 1998 because he assaulted another officer.

Future Holds No Interest for Plaintiffs

Source: Henry Gottlieb, New Jersey Law Journal
Date: June 18, 2003

The New Jersey Supreme Court has banned prejudgment interest on future economic losses in tort actions, dismaying the plaintiffs' bar and handing the insurance industry a victory worth millions. In decisions during the past 26 years, the court had ruled that such awards were a valid component of prejudgment interest packages, not just to make plaintiffs whole but to deter carriers from stonewalling on cases they were sure to lose.

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