Sometimes, you may run across a story about an employee who was harmed in a situation similar to your own. If, at the end, that employee loses her case, it may easy to become discouraged. Don’t give in to that impulse. Each case has its own unique set of facts. It may turn out that the facts in the unsuccessful employee’s case were especially unfavorable or there were important things that were different from your own circumstance. To get the best sense of the strengths or challenges involved in your potential discrimination or harassment claim, what you need is the advice of an experienced New Jersey employment attorney.
M.B. was a worker who lost her case, but her setback can be very instructive for other workers who suffer employment discrimination. M.B. worked as a manager for a fitness center in New Jersey from 2011 until Aug. 19, 2016. She was fired, allegedly, for “poor performance, undocumented absences, and insubordination.” The manager, though, identified a different reason for her termination: her race. So, she filed a Law Against Discrimination action.
The employer asked the judge to order the two sides to arbitration, and employee contested going to arbitration. The courts ruled for the employer.
Why did she lose? She likely lost because she had several very important facts working against her. During the beginning of her employment, known as the “onboarding process,” M.B. electronically signed a document regarding resolution of employment disputes. That said that the employee agreed to binding arbitration of all disputes and that, by continuing forward with that job with that employer, she was demonstrating her consent to the arbitration policy.
Additionally, M.B., in her management role, was responsible for helping employees locate the employer’s handbook and policies (including the arbitration policy) and that, when one of her subordinates was fired, M.B. was responsible for securing proof that the terminated employee had signed the company’s arbitration policy.
In other words, the specific circumstances of M.B.’s employment made her keenly aware of her company’s arbitration policy. That was a big reason why she lost.
Many employees aren’t in that position. Most employees are not, by the nature of their job duties, regularly involved in looking at the employer’s arbitration policies. That may even be true for many managers, as their employer’s HR department may handle all aspects of termination with no input or involvement from the manager. The fact that M.B. was periodically hands-on involved with employees’ status with regard to acknowledgement of the arbitration policy was a major point working against her.
Additionally, the evidence in M.B.’s case showed that she unmistakably signed a clear document that said that, by virtue of performing a specific act, she was agreeing to the arbitration policy. Some employers’ “onboarding process” isn’t this clear. Sometimes, the employer’s document says that the employee signature only demonstrates acknowledgement of receipt of the policy, not acceptance of its terms. Other times, the employer’s electronic form may lack a place where the employee clearly signs to denote acceptance. These flaws may open the door to your avoiding arbitration and getting to trial.
In other words, M.B. had two big factual issues working against her that many other works may not. If those had been different for M.B., she might have succeeded and many other workers who have other facts may succeed, as well.
The knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates are here to help you with your discrimination case. Our team has handled many race discrimination actions and knows what it takes to get results. Contact us online or call (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and to find out our diligent attorneys can help you.