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Pre-Trial Evidence Collection and Your New Jersey Employment Discrimination Case

There’s a lot that goes into producing a successful result in a New Jersey discrimination litigation matter. Certainly, there is the questioning of witnesses and the presentation of persuasive legal arguments at trial, but the work that goes on before your trial is just as important. One of the most important of those pre-trial steps is discovery, which involves obtaining documents and various information from the other side. Sometimes, effective pre-trial actions lay the groundwork for a favorable verdict, while other times, they can produce the possibility of reaching a beneficial settlement and avoiding trial altogether.

Obtaining the information you need in the discovery process involves more than just knowing how to make the right requests; it also involves knowing what to do when the other side rejects your valid request. As you take on this and other parts of your case, make certain you have a skilled New Jersey employment attorney handling your case from the very start.

A case from North Jersey, on which reported, was an example of the importance of pre-trial efforts. J.T. was a police officer. According to a Law Against Discrimination lawsuit he filed, the officer, who was gay, alleged that he had been the victim of sexual orientation discrimination at work. As a public employee, the officer had multiple options for seeking information that he thought might help his case. In addition to other steps, the officer could seek to lay hands on information using statutory means, such as making an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for disclosure, which is one thing that J.T. did.

Specifically, the officer requested the release of certain audio tapes, including ones in which the police chief stated that he would like to kill a former president of the borough’s council, according to the report. The officer’s attorney reasoned that this and other comments made by the chief on those tapes would further strengthen the elements of J.T.’s discrimination case.

The borough fought back by arguing that the OPRA did not require it to turn over the tapes. The officer did not simply acquiesce, however. Instead, he went to court and a Superior Court judge recently ruled that the officer was entitled to the tapes. The OPRA requires disclosure of things that are part of a governmental entity’s “ordinary business.” In this case, the judge reasoned that the recordings were made with a borough-owned tape recorder and most were made while the chief was on duty and in uniform.

Furthermore, most of the recordings involved exchanges between the chief (a borough employee) and other borough employees. In sum, those facts meant that the recordings had “become part of the borough’s ordinary business,” even though they were not sanctioned by the borough’s government itself.

As a result of the judge’s ruling, the officer would get the recordings and also presumably have a stronger case to present in court in his discrimination action trial.

The hardworking New Jersey employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates understand that success begins long before the first opening statement is made at trial. Our team is here to help you get the most out of your discrimination case. 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:

How Disparaging Comments by Co-Workers May Provide You With a Viable Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Discrimination Case in New Jersey, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, Nov. 21, 2018

A Male Principal Called a ‘Brazen Hussy’ by a School Board Members Settles His New Jersey Discrimination Lawsuit for $307K, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, Sept. 21, 2018

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