Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Can my employer fire me because I filed a workers’ compensation claim?”
A New Jersey woman is driving workplace discrimination claims in a new direction, claiming that congested roadways on her work commute aggravated her “great anxiety and depression.” The woman, Andrea DeGerolamo, doesn’t blame Gov. Chris Christie for the congestion; instead, she blames her former employer, Fulton Financial Corp., for not letting her change her work schedule to avoid it.
DeGerolamo alleged in the suit that her doctor mandated the change in commuting times after determining that DeGerolamo was clinically depressed and that her condition was “especially aggravated by crowded roadways during the heavy traffic of rush hour.”
Fulton hired DeGerolamo in 2007 as a marketing coordinator. In her suit – premised upon New Jersey’s workplace antidiscrimination act – she alleged that Fulton refused “to enter into an interactive dialogue… aimed at reaching a reasonable accommodation.”
DeGerolamo alleged that she took a medical leave of absence in 2012, but after returning to work she was terminated. She said her termination amounted to discrimination, based on her efforts to “address alleged workplace bias.” She also alleged that Fulton retaliated against her for using the Family Medical Leave Act to take some time off.
In the lawsuit, DeGerolamo sought damages for lost wages and benefits, front pay, medical insurance, punitive damages, emotional distress damages, and attorneys’ fees. Fulton has removed the case to Federal Court, where it is pending in the New Jersey District.
New Jersey’s antidiscrimination statute was in the headlines last year, when Gov. Christie signed the latest amendment to it into law in August. Employers in the state are now prohibited from retaliating against employees who ask current or former colleagues “to provide information about their job title, occupational category or pay, if the purpose of the request” is gather information for a potential pay inequity claim.
New Jersey also bars workplace discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, nationality, ancestry, age, sex, family status, marital status, domestic partnership or civil union status, gender identity or expression, disability, military service, affectional or sexual orientation, atypical cellular or blood trait, or genetic information. Many – but not all – of these types of discrimination are barred under federal law.
While not as encompassing as New Jersey’s workplace antidiscrimination statutes, state and federal laws applicable in North Carolina render many forms of workplace discrimination illegal. If you believe you are a victim of illegal workplace discrimination, please do not hesitate to contact Matt Arnold to set up an appointment.
If you, or someone you know, have any questions regarding personal injury claims, please feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys and lawyers in Charlotte, North Carolina at Arnold & Smith, PLLC for a free consultation. Call at 704-370-2828 or click here for additional resources.
About the Author:
Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.
In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.
Image Credit: https://flic.kr/p/gYhXQq
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