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New Jersey Corrections Officer Receives $316K Jury Award in Her Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

Legal News GavelA recent report from the Trentonian discussed a female corrections officer’s successful sex discrimination case. The jury in the case returned a verdict that awarded the employee just under $317,000 in damages. The report also noted that the woman, who was white, has a second discrimination lawsuit – this one for race discrimination – still pending. The officer’s discrimination-based legal actions highlight several useful bits of knowledge regarding who can pursue discrimination claims and whether or not you can bring multiple discrimination actions. Whether your case involves one basis for claiming illegal workplace discrimination or several, it pays to have an experienced New Jersey sex discrimination attorney on your side.

The employee, Jennifer, was a senior corrections officer at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. According to the officer, her supervisor, Zsuzsanna, treated her less favorably than Jennifer’s male peers, according to the Trentonian report. It is important to note that, in order to have a successful discrimination case, you do not have to prove that you and the person who committed the discrimination were of different groups. In other words, a female employee can have a winning case of sex discrimination even if the supervisor who is doing the discriminating is also a woman. The female employee only needs to prove that she was treated less favorably than her male counterparts.

For Jennifer, the alleged discrimination included verbal insults (“idiot”) and re-assignment to a less desirable position (while her old position was filled by a man). At one point, Jennifer was allegedly ordered to “haul multiple food-cart loads and deliver boxes of food that weighed 300 to 400 pounds” by herself, a job usually carried out by mailroom workers. This solo assignment, Jennifer asserted, represented a clear signal to others that Jennifer was being punished by upper management. After completing this assignment, the officer developed a stress fracture in her back.

Jennifer’s case went to trial in January. The jury returned a verdict in her favor. The jury concluded that the Department of Corrections’ actions and inaction had created a hostile work environment for this officer, and it ordered the employer to pay the officer $100,000 in emotional distress damages and another $216,875 in punitive damages.

This favorable verdict in Jennifer’s sex discrimination lawsuit may not be the end, however. Some time after she filed the sex discrimination lawsuit, she filed a race discrimination action. The law allows you to pursue separate lawsuits if the claims are distinct and the wrongdoers are distinct. In the race discrimination case, Jennifer, who is white, claimed that her problems began when she complained about the aggressive, hostile, and racially biased conduct of an African-American sergeant. After complaining, she received numerous acts of retaliation from another African-American sergeant. New Jersey law allows anyone to pursue discrimination claims, so a white employee is entitled to file a race discrimination action based on the conduct of African-American coworkers or supervisors, a male employee can file a sex discrimination lawsuit based on female misconduct, etc.

Jennifer’s race discrimination lawsuit is still ongoing, according to the Trentonian.

If you believe that you have suffered harm at work due to impermissible discrimination, reach out to the skilled New Jersey sex discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Contact 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:

New Jersey Legislature Considers a Bill that Would Ban Non-Disclosure Agreements in Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Cases, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, Dec. 21, 2017

New Jersey Township’s First Female Police Officer Receives $355,000 Sex Discrimination Award, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, May 4, 2017

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