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The Importance of Evidence of Discriminatory Motive in Your New Jersey Law Against Discrimination Case

You can think of your successful discrimination or sexual harassment case like one of those domino “chain reaction” exercises. To arrive at a successful domino effect conclusion, every element of the chain must be properly in place and must do its job. If any one of them fails, the whole thing fails. One of the many ways that the right New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer will help you is by ensuring that you have the proof you need in each of the required elements so that each of your “dominos” will be more than ready to do its job and get you to a successful case result.

The disability discrimination case of one retail worker from North Jersey makes for a very good example of this. F.K., a woman with a hearing impairment and a speech impediment, worked at a clothing store and “lifestyle retailer” in the Menlo Park Mall in Edison.

Eight months after F.K. started, a new manager came to the store. Things allegedly got off to a rocky start. The new manager verbally reprimanded for various minor infractions. There was one text message exchange about an alleged incident involving F.K. reading a book while “on the clock.” However, no one ever “wrote up” F.K. and all managers confirmed that F.K.’s work was “generally satisfactory.”

On Sept. 8, 2015, F.K.’s managers pulled her into a meeting about her employment. According to F.K., her manager told her that she was fired, but that she had the option of finishing that day’s shift. F.K.’s sister also testified that the manager said she fired F.K.

A year and a half later, she sued for disability discrimination in violation of the Law Against Discrimination.

The Many Essential Ingredients of a Successful Discrimination Case

In a LAD case like this one, you need to establish several things. Coming up short on any one of them could be fatal to your case and lead to your lawsuit getting thrown out before you ever even make it to trial.

The first thing you need is proof that you were a member of a protected group. In the example of a disability discrimination lawsuit, this means you need evidence that you had a recognized disability or that your employer thought that you had a disability. A worker like F.K. also needs proof that “she was performing in the position from which she was fired; she was terminated; and the employer sought to replace her.”

If you do all of these things, then the employer must advance a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the termination. Then you have to show that the employer’s stated reason was just a pretext for the real reason, which was discrimination.

F.K. had not one, but two problems, either one of which was (by itself) enough to sink her case.

The Value of Strong Proof Showing that Discrimination Was the Motivation

The woman, according to the appeals court, lacked “any evidence that she was replaced.” Even if that proof problem didn’t exist, the worker had an arguably bigger problem within her case, which was that she “failed to point to any evidence in the record that could plausibly lead to an inference of disability discrimination.” F.K. tried to use the fact that her employment ended just two months after the new manager came to the store as a basis for supporting her claim, but that fact alone wasn’t enough. In other words, that correlation was enough evidence to establish discriminatory causation.

F.K. directly testified that the manager “never mentioned anything about [F.K.’s] disability or treated her inappropriately in any way. In fact, the very first issue she had with her manager arose during the September 8, 2015 meeting, during which the issue of plaintiff’s disability was not raised or discussed.”

On those facts, F.K.’s proof that the employer’s stated reasons for its action were actually a pretext for disability discrimination was so severely lacking that the employer was entitled to a summary judgment in its favor. The holes in F.K.’s case were just too much to overcome.

If you have been the victim of disability discrimination at work, then you need to be sure that, when it’s time to go to court, you have everything necessary to get to trial and then to get to a successful outcome. This means having someone on your side who understands all of the required elements needed for a successful disability discrimination lawsuit. Look to the knowledgeable New Jersey disability discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates to provide that kind of powerful and effective representation in your case. We have helped countless workers with disabilities and we are eager to get to work for you. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation.

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