Our Precedent Setting Cases
Our attorneys have worked on many important employment law appeals that have improved and expanded the rights of employees in New Jersey. Below is a brief description of some of our most important precedent-setting employment law cases.
In Cole, our client alleged her employer's decision to fire her constitutes disability discrimination and retaliation. The trial judge dismissed her case because she signed an employment contract that included an arbitration provision. However, Jonathan I. Nirenberg successfully persuaded the Appellate Division to reverse the trial court's decision on the basis that the employer waived its right to enforce the arbitration agreement by choosing not to assert it as a defense until 3 days before the trial. As a result, the case will be decided by a jury, rather than by an arbitrator. For more information about Cole, please read our article New Jersey Court Finds Employer Waived Right to Enforce Arbitration Agreement.
- privacy rights. The New Jersey Supreme Court ultimately ruled that even though companies have a right to monitor communications that pass through their computer systems, this company should not have have read the employee's emails because they were protected by the attorney-client privilege.
Prior to the appeal, a jury determined that Berkeley Educational Services of New Jersey discriminated against Ms. Padilla because she was pregnant. However, the trial judge did not allow the jury to award her any damages.
On appeal, Jonathan I. Nirenberg convinced New Jersey's Appellate Division to send the case back to the trial court so a jury could award damages for the lost wages and benefits and emotional distress caused by the pregnancy discrimination, as well as attorneys' fees. The appellate court recognized employees do not need to have a doctor or expert witness testify to be able to recover emotional distress damages under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
In this disability discrimination case, Jonathan I. Nirenberg helped convince New Jersey's Appellate Division that Lois Myers was entitled to her day in court. The appeals court ruled that a supervisor's admission that she lowered Ms. Myers' performance rating because she believed that, as a cancer survivor, Ms. Myers was not working as hard as her non-disabled coworkers was "direct evidence" of discrimination. As a result, instead of Ms. Myers having to prove that AT&T fired her because of her disability, the company would have the burden to prove it would have fired her even if she never had cancer. The Myers decision is extremely important since it makes it significantly easier for an employee to place the burden of proof on the employer in employment discrimination cases.
In yet another important victory for employees in a disability discrimination case, Jonathan I. Nirenberg helped to convince the New Jersey Supreme Court to substantially lower the threshold for victims of discrimination to have their cases decided by juries.
A jury found that Stanley Roberts, Inc. fired Stewart Zive because he was disabled after he suffered a stroke. The company unsuccessfully attempted to convince the Appellate Division to reverse the decision. The New Jersey Supreme Court ultimately concluded that a plaintiff has a minimal initial burden before he or she is entitled to a trial, essentially ruling that a jury should decide whether discrimination made a difference in the employer's decision as long as the facts are consistent with the possibility of discrimination.
In this federal civil rights case, Firefighter William J. Brennan was awarded a substantial jury verdict against the Township of Teaneck, New Jersey for violating his First Amendment rights. On appeal, the defendants sought to reverse the jury's verdict. Jonathan I. Nirenberg, who represented Mr. Brennan, convinced the court to send the case back to the district court to determine whether the defendants had retaliated against Mr. Brennan in violation of the Conscientious Employee Protection Act ("CEPA") even though he had not sent a "notice of claim" to Teaneck. Filing a notice of claim is a prerequisite to bringing a personal injury lawsuit against the state or local government. The Court ruled that plaintiffs do not need to send a notice of claim before bringing a whistleblower claim against the government under CEPA.