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How One New Jersey Casino Worker Overcame His Employer’s Attempt to Get His Race Discrimination Lawsuit Thrown Out of Court

When you sue for race discrimination, two of the main avenues you can follow to pursue your case are either disparate impact or disparate treatment. Under federal law, disparate impact discrimination occurs when your employer had policies or practices that had a disproportionately negative impact on people of your race. Disparate treatment occurs when you (or you plus others of your race) were treated less favorably than other workers in similar situations who were not members of your race. Each kind of case requires accumulating the right amount and the right kind of proof, and knowing how to use that evidence to its maximum effect, so be sure you have a knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorney handling your case.

A recent federal case from here in New Jersey is a good example of how a disparate treatment discrimination claim can work. J.D. was a security supervisor at a popular Atlantic City casino. The casino fired him after an incident with a verbally aggressive and apparently intoxicated panhandler.

In that encounter, J.D. used a “leg sweep” move to take the man’s legs out from under him. The panhandler was not physically injured in the takedown. However, the employer nevertheless fired J.D. for using excessive force. J.D., who was African-American, sued the employer for race discrimination.

So, what does disparate treatment discrimination look like? It can take many different forms, but here is one hypothetical to give you a general idea. Say you had evidence that your employer only fired four people for late arrivals to work: you and three others (all four of whom were Latinos,) and that each of you had four late arrivals in the previous 12 months. Six other employees had four or more late arrivals in that same 12-month period, all of whom were white. None of those six white workers were disciplined in any way. With facts like that, you likely have the foundation of a viable disparate treatment claim.

A white employee allegedly used similar force and was promoted, not fired

In J.D.’s case, the African-American employee had enough proof of disparate treatment to defeat his employer’s attempt to get his case thrown out of court. He had evidence that a white security supervisor placed a casino guest, who was being belligerent, in a headlock. Another time, that same security supervisor subdued a drunken guest in such a way that the guest required hospital attention. Not only did the casino not fire that white security supervisor, it promoted him to a higher position, according to J.D.

That was enough proof to defeat an employer’s motion to dismiss the case. J.D. had the foundation of a viable claim that he was fired for using physical force while that same employer not only failed to fire a similarly situated white worker who used force, but promoted that white man.

The employer argued that the two security workers were not similarly situated because the white supervisor’s actions were not comparable to J.D.’s. That argument did not succeed (and will fail in many employers’ motions to dismiss) because, when you are proceeding in a disparate treatment case like J.D. was, the law says that the jury is the one who should decide whether you and your coworker of a different race were or were not in similar situations.

Whether your discrimination case involved disparate treatment or disparate impact as a basis for liability, having a strong body of factual evidence to back up your assertions of discrimination is going to be vital. To help you get that evidence and the outcome you deserve in your race discrimination case, rely on the knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Our attorneys offer many years of experience in successfully representing workers in a full range of discrimination cases. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation to discuss how we can bring the power of this office to work for you.

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