Client: Oaks Integrated Care, Inc.
Court: Appellate Division
Brief Attorney: Joseph F. Betley, Esq. and Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq.
Plaintiff, who is African-American, alleged that he was improperly terminated from his position at Oaks Integrated Care, Inc. (“Oaks”), because of his race, in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”). After receiving an anonymous tip alleging plaintiff was smoking marijuana outside the group home, Oaks suspended plaintiff pending an internal investigation. Oaks found the allegations to be unsubstantiated and contacted plaintiff multiple times to schedule his return to work, but plaintiff did not return the calls. Plaintiff was subsequently terminated due to his violation of Oaks’ attendance and conflict resolution policy.
Plaintiff brought suit under the NJLAD alleging he was terminated because of his race. He premised the claim on comments his supervisor allegedly made questioning his ability to afford certain “luxuries,” such as designer jeans, sneakers, rental cars, and vacations. The motion judge determined that plaintiff’s “subjective feelings of race-based discrimination” failed to demonstrate a prima facie violation of the NJLAD and dismissed the case. On appeal, the Appellate Division agreed that plaintiff’s termination was not a pretext for discrimination and upheld the dismissal.