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Making Sure You Meet the Deadline for Pursuing a Discrimination Case in New Jersey

When you’ve been harmed by workplace discrimination, it is important to act promptly. You only have a limited period of time to decide to pursue a Law Against Discrimination case and to get that complaint filed with the court. The law limits you to two years in which to file. File too late and your employer may be able to use that tardiness to get your case dismissed, which would mean that you would be forever barred from obtaining any recovery for those acts of discrimination.

Part of that prompt action is, with all due speed, consulting with, and retaining, experienced New Jersey discrimination counsel. As a layperson, you are doubtlessly very familiar with all of the rules and requirements of your profession, but it is reasonable to assume that you may not be as versed in the demands of the law. Going it alone can risk making procedural errors like filing too late, or not knowing how best to respond if your employer argues, incorrectly, that your filing came after the deadline.

As an example of a case that came down arguments about when the filing deadline passed, there’s the recently decided lawsuit filed a South Jersey woman. S. T.-B. was the executive director of a community college’s cultural and heritage commission. S. T.-B. was also a 67-year-old African-American woman with disabilities. On January 23, 2015, a vice president at the college notified the director that due to drop in enrollment and in funding, the school was making cost cutbacks, including eliminating the director’s job. The director would, however, continue to receive her regular salary until June 30, 2015.

According to the director, the employer replaced her with someone who wasn’t African-American, wasn’t disabled and was younger. The director sued the college for age discrimination, in addition to asserting discrimination on the basis of race and disability.

The director started out her case without an attorney. She filed her lawsuit on June 29, 2017. The employer argued that the director filed her complaint after the deadline imposes by the two-year limitations period, and that it should be dismissed. The trial judge concluded that the “adverse employment action” occurred in January 2015 when the employer notified the director of the termination of her employment, and sided with the employer.

The director eventually retained counsel, appealed and was successful in reviving her case. The appeals court explained that, when it comes calculating the limitations period for a Law Against Discrimination case, the “adverse employment action” occurs on the date of discharge. The date of discharge is the “first full day of unemployment,” meaning the day after the last day for which the employee was paid.

In other words, the relevant date for S. T.-B. was not January 23, 2015, but was July 1, 2015, which is the first full day for which the director was not paid by the employer. That meant the director’s discrimination lawsuit complaint was not late and the director was entitled to continue pursuing her case.

There’s so much that goes into successfully pursuing a discrimination case, from complying with all the procedural rules to countering arguments made by your employer. Mistakes on any of these could have disastrous results for your case, so why take the risk of not having an attorney? Give yourself the representation you need by retaining the skilled New Jersey employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Our team is dedicated to helping you get what you deserve from your discrimination case. Contact us to find out more about your options. Reach us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and to find out how we can help you.

More blog posts:

A Federal Judge Denies a New Jersey Employer’s Request for Summary Judgment in Worker’s Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment Case, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, March 27, 2018

NJ Supreme Court: Employers Cannot Force Employees to Accept Shortened Period for Pursuing Discrimination Claims, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, March 8, 2017

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