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Supreme Court Rejects Limitation on Employee’s Right to Sue

On behalf of Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP | Jul 22, 2016 |


In Rodriguez v. Raymours Furniture, the plaintiff was hired by the defendant and, in his employment application, there was a provision requiring the applicant to bring any employment-related actions within six months of the adverse employment action, and waiving all contrary statutes of limitations. However, a later application did not contain the same contested provisions. In 2010, the plaintiff was injured on the job and, after returning to work, his employment was terminated. Seven months after his termination, he filed a complaint, alleging discrimination under the Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”). Rejecting the plaintiff’s arguments of unconscionability, unenforceability and novation, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, and the Appellate Division affirmed.

In reversing the Appellate Division panel, the Supreme Court focused on the public policy behind the LAD. It found that, in the 23 years since the Court had adopted a two-year statute of limitations for LAD actions in Montells v. Haynes, the New Jersey Legislature effectively had registered its approval through silence. The Court held that plaintiffs in LAD actions must be allowed to first pursue administrative remedies, and then must be allowed to later bring judicial action if the administrative remedies prove insufficient. The Court also held that it would have reached the same decision under an unconscionability analysis, and declined to address the novation argument.