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Nurse Who Pursued Her New Jersey Race Discrimination Case Without Legal Representation Does Not Meet with Success

nurseIf you have been harmed at work because your employer discriminated against you due to your sex, race, religion, or some other illegal basis, you are probably frustrated and upset. You also likely want justice for the harm you’ve suffered. You may desire to take your case to court, but you may be concerned about the cost of legal fees. As many real-life examples of self-represented workers in race discrimination cases illustrate, though, you can’t afford not to have a knowledgeable New Jersey race discrimination lawyer on your side to litigate your case. Your skilled attorney can guide you through what to do, and what not to do, in the pursuit of your damages.

An example of a self-represented worker who did not meet with success was Willie, a registered nurse who, in the fall of 2011, took a job at a substance abuse and mental health treatment facility near Newark. Willie’s primary assignment placed her on a floor dedicated to rehab patients. Sometimes, though, the hospital would send her to work on another floor dedicated to the hospital’s detox program. Working in the detox unit was apparently a more unfavorable assignment than working on a rehab floor.

The nurse became frustrated with her assignments to the detox floor. She believed that the hospital frequently sent her to the detox floor because of her race and color. According to Willie, the hospital sent her to the detox program twice as often as Mikola, a white nurse assigned to the same rehab floor as Willie. This led Willie to file a claim with the EEOC and, subsequently, to sue her employer for race discrimination in violation of Title VII.

The nurse made one key strategic decision that may have had a significant and damaging effect on her case. She decided to proceed without a lawyer. She lost her case in the federal District of New Jersey court. The nurse’s case never even made it to trial, with the district court granting the hospital a summary judgment in its favor. The nurse decided to appeal that ruling, but she again went forward without an attorney representing her. Again, she lost.

When you are pursuing a Title VII discrimination claim, you need to show the court that the harm you experienced had an adverse effect on the terms of your employment. If you received a pay cut, a demotion, a reduction in prestige at work, or a reduction in benefits, any of these can be the sort of adverse action that can form the basis of a discrimination lawsuit.

There are many ways to establish that the discrimination you suffered created an adverse impact on your employment. Willie did not give the courts anything that the law recognizes as an “adverse employment action.” Perhaps with an experienced discrimination attorney, she could have made a stronger showing with regard to this key component of a discrimination case and kept her lawsuit going.

The experienced New Jersey race discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates are dedicated to helping workers affected by illegal workplace discrimination. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation. Talk to one of our attorneys to find out how we can help you pursue the recovery you deserve.

More blog posts:

Sometimes Even a Supervisor’s Single Racial Slur Can Be Enough in a Discrimination or Harassment Case, Third Circuit Rules, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, July 21, 2017

New Jersey Supreme Court Upholds $1.4M Emotional Damage Award in Race Discrimination Case, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, March 16, 2017

Photo Credit: Linnaea Mallette [CC0 License], via PublicDomainPictures.net

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