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Director's Orders and Findings
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  Director's Orders 2002  
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  After a hearing before the Office of Administrative Law has been held, and an initial decision has been rendered by an Administrative Law Judge, it is reviewed by the Director. The Director may adopt the initial decision as rendered or modify the decision prior to issuing a Final Order. The final order may approve a settlement agreed upon by the parties, may dismiss the case with no benefit to the complainant, or may order the award of appropriate damages, assessment of penalties and other relief deemed proper by the Director.  
     
     
 
2002 Compendia - 51k pdf
 
  Case summaries are provided for descriptive purposes only and are not part of the Director's decision.  
     
 

2/26/02

WILEY v. VICTORIA’S CAFÉ AND CONRAD JACOBSON AND MICHAEL SCHOENFELD, t/a VICTORIA’S CAFÉ

DCR Docket No. EB-60WB40094
OAL Docket No. CRT 5058-98

Case Summary: The complainant filed a verified complaint with the Division alleging that the respondent subjected her to unlawful employment discrimination because of her race (African-American) and gender in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). Following an administrative hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an initial decision in favor of the complainant awarding her back pay with interest, out-of-pocket expenses, pain and humiliation. Specifically, the ALJ found that the complainant established a claim for hostile work environment sexual and racial harassment and constructive discharge, and that a reasonable African-American woman would have found the respondent’s behavior sufficiently severe and pervasive to alter her workplace and force her to resign. The ALJ found the complainant’s testimony more credible than the respondent’s, and noted that her testimony describing the respondent’s offensive racial and sexual statements and conduct was corroborated in significant part by other employees. However, the ALJ dismissed the complaint against the new restaurant owner, finding it was not liable to the complainant under the theory of successor liability.

Relying upon the ALJ’s credibility determination, the Director reviewed the evidence and found good cause to adopt the ALJ’s initial decision.

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7/11/02

KAMLESH H. DAVE v. CAMDEN COUNTY MUNICIPAL UTILITIES AUTHORITY

DCR Docket No.:ED80NK-45415
OAL Docket No.: CRT 830-01

The complainant filed a verified complaint with the Division alleging that his employer terminated him based on his national origin (Indian) in violation of the LAD. Following an administrative hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an initial decision recommending that the complaint be dismissed. Without making a specific determination regarding whether the complainant established a prima facie case of unlawful discharge, the ALJ concluded that the employer presented good faith reasons for selecting complainant for layoff, and that complainant‘s assertions of a discriminatory motive were not credible. In reviewing the ALJ’s recommended decision, the Director applied the McDonnell Douglas standards for evaluating discriminatory discharge cases and concluded that the complainant did not present sufficient evidence to refute the employer’s claim that it relied on seniority to select the complainant for layoff, nor did the complainant present sufficient evidence to support the conclusion that the employer terminated the complainant because of his national origin or as part of a plan to target others for layoff in violation of the LAD. For these reasons, the Director adopted the ALJ’s initial decision dismissing the complaint.

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7/24/02

DAVID BRONNER v. WW TENDERCARE ENTERPRISES NURSING, INC., AND ALEYAMMA P. JOSEPH

DCR Docket No. EL11WB-42243-E
OAL Docket No. CRT 8121-98

The complainant filed a verified complaint with the Division alleging that the respondents engaged in unlawful discrimination by refusing to hire him as a certified home health aide because of his sexual orientation (homosexual) and disability (HIV positive) in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an initial decision concluding that the complainant produced sufficient evidence to establish that the respondents rescinded their offer of employment upon receipt of information that he was a homosexual and that he tested positive for HIV and hepatitis. The respondents failed to participate in the administrative hearing or file exceptions to the initial decision. The Director conducted an independent review of the record and found good cause to adopt the ALJ’s decision. The Director awarded the complainant back pay with interest and compensation for his pain and humiliation. The Director also assessed the maximum statutory penalty. As a prevailing party, the complainant then submitted an application for attorney’s fees, which the Director granted in a supplemental order.

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7/24/02

CHRISTOPHER CROCE v. CENDANT MORTGAGE CORPORATION

DCR Docket No. EC24AB-45004-E
OAL Docket No. CRT 00831-01S

The complainant filed a verified complaint with the Division alleging that the respondent refused to hire him because of his age (48) in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). Complainant applied for employment with respondent as a mortgage service and customer service representatives. He was interviewed for both positions, but was not selected for either position. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an initial decision dismissing the complaint based on his conclusion that complainant failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that respondent denied complainant employment because of his age. Although the undisputed facts established a prima facie case of age discrimination, the ALJ concluded that the respondent articulated a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for denying complainant employment. Specifically, the ALJ was persuaded by the determination made by two employees who interviewed complainant for the mortgage sales position that complainant provided inadequate responses to interview questions and was not a prime candidate. With regard to the customer service position, the ALJ determined that it was undisputed that complainant expressed in his interview that his true interest in obtaining the customer service position was to eventually obtain a mortgage sales position. Based upon this evidence, the ALJ concluded that respondent articulated a legitimate business reason for rejecting complainant’s application.

The Director conducted an independent review of the record and found good cause to adopt the ALJ’s decision dismissing the complaint on respondent’s motion for summary decision.

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7/29/02

EGBERT REID v. SHOPRITE

DCR Dkt. No.: EB54WB-44790
OAL Dkt. No.: CRT 10260-00

The complainant filed a verified complaint with the Division alleging that Respondent refused to hire him because of his race (Black) and national origin (Jamaican), in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). Following an administrative hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), issued an initial decision dismissing the verified complaint after concluding that Complainant failed to prove that Respondent acted with discriminatory intent. Specifically, the ALJ determined that Respondent’s witnesses testified credibly that their decisions regarding Complainant’s application for employment were not based on his race or national origin. This included testimony by two witnesses that Respondent’s policy is to accept all applications whether or not there is an available position, and to keep said applications on file for future reference. The ALJ also found that Respondent’s evidence demonstrated that it maintains a racially diverse workforce. For these reasons, the ALJ concluded that Respondent did not refuse to hire Complainant because of his race or national origin, and in fact offered him a position when one became available. Relying on the ALJ’s credibility determinations, the Director reviewed the evidence and found good cause to adopt the ALJ’s initial decision dismissing the complaint.

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8/2/02

ASTON FOSTER v. SOMERSET MEDICAL CENTER

DCR Dkt. No.: ET18WB-42159-E
OAL Dkt. No.: CRT 1212-01

The complainant filed a verified complaint with the Division alleging that his employer discharged him from his position of housekeeping aide because of his national origin (Jamaican) and disability (shoulder & back injuries), in violation of the LAD. Following an administrative hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an initial decision recommending that the complaint be dismissed. Although the ALJ found that the complainant established a prima facie case of unlawful discharge, she also found that the complainant failed to prove that the respondent’s explanation for his discharge (four work related infractions) were a pretext for unlawful discrimination. In addition to accepting as true the respondent’s non-discriminatory reasons for terminating the complainant’s employment, the ALJ further found that the complainant was no longer on light duty assignment or on any restriction with regard to his job duties when he received disciplinary action for failure to perform certain duties and that there was no evidence that his infractions were related to his disability. Finally, the ALJ did not credit the complainant’s allegations that Respondent’s supervisors had an animosity toward Jamaicans, since Complainant produced no witnesses to corroborate this charge and his own testimony on the topic was deemed unpersuasive. Relying on the ALJ’s credibility determinations regarding the testimony of the parties and their witnesses, the Director found good cause to adopt the ALJ’s initial decision dismissing the complaint.

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8/12/02

KENNETH T. TUCKER v. GLEN RIDGE BOARD OF EDUCATION

DCR Docket No.: EG08WE-35545-E; EG08WE-37410-E
OAL Docket No.: CRT 10575-97

The complainant filed two verified complaints with the Division alleging that his employer subjected him to differential treatment and terminated his employment based on his race (Black), disability (bulging disc) and reprisal, in violation of the LAD. Following an extensive administrative hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an initial decision recommending that the complaints be dismissed. First, the ALJ concluded that the complainant did not produce any direct evidence of unlawful discrimination, such as express statements by decision makers that unequivocally revealed that their decisions regarding the complainant were motivated by his race or status as a person with a disability. Second, the ALJ determined that the complainant failed to establish with indirect or circumstantial evidence that respondent was motivated by considerations of his race, disability, or assertion of rights under the LAD when it terminated his employment. Third, the ALJ did not find any credible support in the record for the complainant’s allegation that the respondent subjected him to differential treatment in assignments, transfer or discipline as compared to co-workers based on unlawful considerations of his race, disability or activity protected by the LAD. Relying largely on the ALJ’s credibility determinations regarding the testimony of the parties and their witnesses regarding the complainant’s job performance and insubordination, the Director found good cause to adopt the ALJ’s initial decision dismissing the complaints.

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8/28/02

MARGARET ALLEN v. PRINCE SPORTS GROUP, INC.
STEPHANIE MELTON v. PRINCE SPORTS GROUP, INC.


DCR Docket Nos.: EC03RB-38041; EC03RB-38042 (Consolidated)
OAL Docket Nos.: CRT 00760-00S; CRT 00761-00S

The complainants filed individual verified complaints alleging, among other things, that throughout their time as temporary workers at the respondent’s facility, the respondent refused to offer them permanent positions and subsequently terminated their employment because of their race. The complainants additionally charged that the respondent subjected them and three other Black workers to hostile work environment racial harassment. An administrative hearing was commenced and the respondent moved to dismiss the charges following the close of the complainants’ evidence . The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) granted the respondent’s motion and issued an initial decision dismissing the complaints.

The ALJ concluded that the alleged harassing conduct, involving a supervisor’s use of a racial slur over the loudspeaker when referring to the complainants, occurred after the supervisor had advised the complainants that their employment was terminated. For this reason the ALJ concluded that the complainants could not have reasonably perceived the respondent’s conduct as altering their work environment because the incident occurred outside the employer-employee relationship and was not covered by the LAD. The acting Director rejected this conclusion and determined instead that the record revealed sufficient evidence of a material factual dispute regarding the complainants’ relationship to the respondent at the time of the alleged harassment to preclude summary dismissal. Specifically, the record revealed evidence that the complainants were instructed to remain on the premises and work the remainder of their shift despite being terminated. Moreover, the Director noted that in some circumstance the LAD’s prohibitions against employment discrimination and reprisal apply to non-employees, such as applicants or former employees. Consequently, the Director concluded that there was a material factual dispute regarding whether the respondent’s conduct altered the terms, conditions and privileges of the complainants’ employment in violation of the LAD. Therefore, the Director found good cause to reject the initial decision granting the respondent’s motion to dismiss the complaints and remanded the matter to the Office of Administrative Law for further proceedings to determine whether the events occurred as described in the complainants’ testimony.

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8/28/02

RODNEY B. DAWSON v. R.W. VOGEL, INC. , HOLGATE PROPERTY ASSOCIATION, ENVIRONMENTALLY CLEAN NATURALLY, INC. AND JEFF VOGEL

OAL DOCKET NO.: CRT 4501-00
DCR DOCKET NO.: EQ11RB-41666-E

The Director adopted the conclusion reached by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) that the respondents subjected the complainant to a racially hostile work environment because he is African American, based on testimony describing offensive and derogatory racial statements and differential treatment. The Director additionally adopted the ALJ’s conclusion that the complainant’s race was a determinative factor in the respondents’ decision to terminate his employment as a truck driver. The Director also adopted the ALJ’s recommended emotional distress damages and additionally agreed with the ALJ that the complainant suffered no compensable lost income as a result of the respondents’ violations of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). The Director modified the ALJ’s assessment of statutory penalties in light of a recent LAD amendment which increased the maximum permissible penalties, and made an individualized assessment of the penalties to be imposed on each respondent based on the gravity, duration and nature of each respondent’s LAD violations.

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10/22/02

JOAN WEISS v. COOPER HOSPITAL / UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER

OAL DOCKET NO.: CRT 8661-00
DCR DOCKET NO.: ED08HB-39766

The complainant, a registered nurse, filed a verified complaint alleging that her employer failed to provide her with reasonable accommodation for her disability (fibromyalgia), subjected her to differential treatment and unlawfully terminated her employment based on her disability. The complainant specifically alleged that her employer refused to transfer her to an available nursing position which did not require heavy lifting, and terminated her because she could no longer physically perform the lifting functions of her floor nursing assignment. After a hearing on the merits, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) dismissed the complaint, concluding that the employer had legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for selecting other candidates for available transfer positions, and provided complainant with sufficient accommodations for her disability by affording her several leaves of absence and modifying her schedule for a two week period.

The Director rejected the ALJ’s conclusion and instead determined that the employer violated the LAD. Specifically, the Director concluded that the employer failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that it would have been an undue hardship to transfer the complainant to one of at least two specific nursing positions which were available during the relevant time, and for which she was qualified. The Director also concluded that the employer presented no evidence that it offered or considered alternative accommodations designed to enable the complainant to return to work. Accordingly, the Director reversed the ALJ’ dismissal of the complaint, and awarded the complainant back pay with interest and emotional distress damages, and assessed a statutory penalty.

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