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New Jersey Supreme Court Opens the Door to Employee Retaliation Lawsuits Based Upon Post-Employment Employer Conduct

On February 18, 2010 by Schnader

In January 2010, the Supreme Court of New Jersey, in Roa and Roa v. LAFE, ruled that employees cannot use more recent acts of alleged discrimination to revive acts of discrimination more than two years old, if the prior acts were themselves sufficient to put an employee on notice of a potential claim.  The Court also ruled, however, that retaliation occurring after an employee is terminated is actionable even though the retaliation no longer effects the ex-employee’s present or future employment. Roa is a split decision for employers.

On one hand, the ruling confirms that some harassment and discrimination claims under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) can be time-barred even if harassment and discrimination continues. A modest “win” for employers. On the other hand, allowing posttermination retaliation claims under the LAD opens the door to greater liability and damages, including a Plaintiff’s attorney’s costs, fees, and a fee multiplier. A significant “loss” for employers. Now more than ever, employers must establish policies and procedures to ensure that company employees are not taking unwarranted adverse action against an employee after termination.

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