The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sex, race or disability. It also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who blow the whistle on unlawful practices conducted within the company. When employers violate the whistleblower law, employees may find themselves facing workplace harassment or unlawful termination. In addition to the practical consequences of these violations, including wage loss and career damage, employees may also face emotional distress, which can be difficult to recover from.
Such was the case for two brothers in New Jersey who are suing their former employer, the Wentworth Company. The employees had worked as executives for the company, but allege they were consistently harassed for their Hispanic ethnicity. Their claim asserts that management personnel at the company repeatedly called them busboys and made references to switchblades, burritos and Taco Bell. Their lawsuit claims that the numerous comments were very offensive and created a hostile work environment for them.
Brothers Suffered Emotionally Due to Harassment, Retaliation from Employer
Allegedly, when the brothers complained about the degrading comments, they were fired. Both brothers testified that they became depressed after their termination, which caused problems in their personal lives. One described his difficulty trusting his new coworkers, while the stress of paying bills while he was unemployed caused the other’s marriage to break up.
The case was heard by a jury, who awarded the brothers $600,000 and $800,000, respectively, in compensatory damages for emotional distress. The Wentworth Group asked the trial judge to overturn the decision, but the judge upheld the awards, saying that they were reasonable given the circumstances described in the testimony. After an unsuccessful appeal to the New Jersey Superior Court, the company took the case to the New Jersey Supreme Court, who will hear arguments as to whether the awards should be lessened.
Every employee has the right to a discrimination-free workplace, as protected by New Jersey state law. Employers who allow harassment or retaliate against whistleblowers not only break the law, but also cause employees lasting emotional stress. If you have been the victim of workplace discrimination, an experienced employment lawyer in New Jersey can help review your legal options to get you the compensation you deserve for your suffering.
South Jersey Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Fight for Rights for Workplace Discrimination Victims
South Jersey employment discrimination lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. have successfully represented victims of employment discrimination for more than 30 years. We understand the complexities of New Jersey employment law and will develop a sound legal strategy to fight for the compensation you are entitled to. With offices conveniently located in Center City, Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Call us today at 215-569-1999 or contact us online for a free consultation.