A New Jersey jury recently held that a former employee should receive over $725,000 in damages resulting from a wrongful termination suit that constituted disability discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). The NJLAD prohibits New Jersey employers from terminating, discharging, refusing to hire, or otherwise discriminating against an individual employee based upon the individual’s protected status. Disability is one of the many protected categories listed in the NJLAD.
In this recent case, the employee, who was out on disability leave following a work-related injury, was fired from his position without warning. While performing cleaning activities as part of his employment, the full-time maintenance worker suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery. The employee was granted several weeks disability leave from his employer, who proceeded to fire him three weeks into that disability leave. In finding for the employee, the Court held that the termination constituted disability discrimination in violation of the NJLAD. The jury rejected the defense argument that the employee’s absence would be an undue burden on the employer.
The seven-person jury unanimously found for the injured worker, awarding the employee more than $725,000. In addition to $125,000 in lost wages and $100,000 in emotional distress damages, the jury awarded $500,000 in punitive damages to the terminated employee in a separate punitive damages trial. Previous settlement offers were rejected following the denial of the defense’s motion for summary judgment. The NJLAD permits punitive damages, which are generally only awarded in cases where an employer acted intentionally or egregiously. There is no limit on the amount of punitive damages that might be awarded to an employee under the NJLAD.
This decision could make the path easier for injured workers pursuing disability discrimination claims under the NJLAD. When a worker becomes temporarily disabled due to a work-related injury, protection now may exist under the NJLAD. Workers may be entitled to compensatory damages in the form of loss wages or emotional distress damages, as well as significant punitive damages. If you or your loved one was terminated from their employment while on disability leave for a work-related injury, compensation under the NJLAD may now be available.
Red Bank Employment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Pursue Disability Discrimination Claims Under the NJLAD
The experienced Red Bank employment lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. proudly assist New Jersey employees and employers in a wide variety of employment law matters, including those related to wrongful termination and violations of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. With offices conveniently located in Red Bank and Marlton, New Jersey, our experienced employment lawyers proudly serve clients throughout the state, including the communities of Middletown, Cherry Hill, Marlton, and Red Bank. To schedule a free confidential consultation, call our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, our Newark office at 973-878-9040, or contact us at 888-396-0736 or online.