Arriving at a successful resolution of your age discrimination case is the result of numerous hurdles cleared successfully. One such hurdle that you will likely encounter is your employer’s motion to dismiss. Losing this motion gets your case tossed before you ever get to trial, so clearing this hurdle is crucial. As you get set to take on the entire process of litigating a discrimination case in the Garden State, count on a knowledgeable New Jersey age discrimination lawyer to help you get over each of the hurdles in your path.
Getting past a defense motion to dismiss involves several things, one of the most essential of which is having a well-pled complaint. The recent age discrimination case of one Central Jersey worker shows this in action.
The worker, C.L., had worked for the same architecture and engineering firm since the mid-1980s. However, one day in January 2019, the company president told the engineer that “there was no work” and that he was terminated effective at the end of that day.
The engineer then went to the trial court in Somerset County and filed a lawsuit alleging age discrimination in violation of the Law Against Discrimination. His complaint asserted that he was 63 years old when the employer fired him, that he had met or exceeded all of the employer’s reasonable expectations and that the employer had fired him.
Four Essential Ingredients of a Valid Age Discrimination Case
These assertions were very important as they represented three-fourths of what the Law Against Discrimination requires to state a valid claim of age discrimination. Under the law, you have to properly allege that you were a member of an age-related protected group. The Law Against Discrimination does not have a minimum age for advancing an age discrimination case and, as of last year, it doesn’t have a maximum either. (Before last fall, employers could discriminate against workers over the age of 70 without running afoul of state law.
Additionally, the Law Against Discrimination requires allegations that you were doing your job “at a level that met the employer’s legitimate expectations” and were fired anyway, which the engineer had.
The law also imposes a fourth pleading requirement, which is asserting that the legitimate reason that the employer gave for its action was actually a pretext for discrimination. In the engineer’s case, the president said that the engineer lost his job because the company had no work for him to do. The engineer asserted that this clearly was false at the company “continued to hire younger individuals” after it fired him.
The engineer’s complaint, however, did not initially include any allegations that the employer “made age-related remarks to him or others,” engaged in “a pattern of discriminating against older workers,” or replaced C.L. with “a substantially younger employee.”
Later, in an amended complaint, C.L. fixed that. He asserted that the employer filled multiple positions after firing him with younger people. The amended complaint also included an assertion that a coworker had told the engineer that “a member of upper management” had commented that the employer “wanted to go forward with younger people.” All of this, according to the appeals court, was enough to defeat a motion to dismiss by the employer.
When you’ve sued for discrimination and your employer files a motion to dismiss before trial, you have some important tenets of law on your side. At this juncture, the courts are required to assume, for purposes of deciding whether or not you have even a minimally valid case, that everything you said in your pleadings was true. In C.L.’s case, that meant assuming that, shortly after his termination, a member of upper management actually made a statement about going forward “with younger people,” and also actually filled multiple positions with younger people, which would seem to belie the employer’s assertion that the company had insufficient work for C.L. and that the company was not motivated by discriminatory animus.
Today, people are living longer than ever and working longer than ever. Regardless of age, each worker should be judged by the quality of their performance, not the date on their birth certificate. If you think you have been fired, demoted, denied employment, or otherwise treated adversely because of your age, you need a powerful legal advocate to fight for you. The skilled New Jersey age discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates are here to be that advocate and help you to get what the law says you deserve. To get our team started on your case, contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation.