In recent months, we’ve heard many socially conscious and/or politically active people call for a more robust effort to “police the police” or to “investigate the investigators.” One may view these as important reminders that no one should be above the law. An ongoing equal pay and race discrimination lawsuit against the State of New Jersey is another illustration of that. One thing you can take away from this race discrimination action is that, if you’ve been harmed because your employer engaged in illegal discrimination, don’t be afraid to take action, regardless of who your employer is. Reach out to a determined New Jersey employment attorney and get started pursuing what you deserve.
What makes the current case here in New Jersey somewhat unique is that the employer being sued is the same organization responsible for investigating and taking on many instances of discrimination: the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).
The employees who alleged discrimination were three deputy attorneys general. At the time, these employees filed their legal action, the OAG had more than 700 deputy attorneys general. Of those, 44 were African American, and only a few of those held senior management jobs, according to the lawsuit.
D.S., who had worked for the OAG for more than a decade, alleged that she was “consistently passed over for promotions” and also received a lower salary than other less qualified and less experienced colleagues who were not African American. P.D. also made allegations of being repeatedly being overlooked for jobs in favor of “less-qualified white colleagues.”
A third African American deputy attorney general, D.H., endured a years-long period where the OAG failed to provide her with “assignments consistent with her senior level experience” while her colleagues who were not African American were securing such assignments, according to the complaint.
The state asked the judge hearing the case to dismiss it.
Having the evidence and the legal arguments it takes to defeat this kind of motion is vitally important for getting a positive outcome. For one thing, if you lose this motion, then the court likely will dismiss your case “with prejudice.” That means that you can never re-file another discrimination case based on those same acts of wrongdoing.
An added potential benefit of defeating a motion to dismiss
Another reason defeating this kind of motion is essential is more subtle. If you are open to considering a pre-trial settlement of your case, getting the judge to deny the employer’s motion to dismiss may open many doors. Many employers will not begin making truly fair settlement offers or considering your reasonable settlement offer, until they have pursued – and lost – a motion to dismiss or motion for summary judgment.
The three African American OAG employees cleared that important hurdle recently. A February 2021 court order denied the state’s motion to dismiss. The court also ordered the state to turn over to the employees a significant array of documents, including a 2016 independent report focusing on race discrimination in the OAG, according to the New Jersey Globe.
So, these employees have not only cleared a vital hurdle but also opened the door to discovering much-needed information that may contain proof essential to the success of their claims.
Whether you work for a “mom-and-pop” business with only a dozen employees, a Fortune 500 corporation, or the State of New Jersey, you are entitled to be free from discrimination based on your race, as well as your sex, national origin, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender expression/identity or religion (among others.) If you have been the target of discrimination at work, then you know the pain, the frustration, and the damage it can do. What you may not know is where to turn. When you need reliable advice and strong advocacy, look to the knowledgeable New Jersey race discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation let us get to work for you.