$3 Million NJ Age Discrimination Verdict for Investigators Upheld on Appeal | NJ Age Discrimination Lawyers

By Thomas McKinney

Six former Investigators employed by the Passaic County Prosecutor’s prevailed in showing that they were fired due to their ages, ranging from 42 to 64.  The jury awarded each lost pay, including lost pay in the future, as well as $175,000 each for punitive damages.  They proved their case by using the prosecutor’s admission that he used their pension eligibility as a key factor in selecting them for termination in a reduction-in-force (RIF).  The prosecutor claimed that, since they were pension-eligible, he chose to fire them because they would receive pensions and, therefore, were more able to absorb the financial blow of job loss than less-tenured (younger) employees who were not pension-eligible upon termination.  One investigator testified that the prosecutor told him, “you’re old.  Enjoy life, you’re eligible for retirement.  You can find work.”  The jury awarded the Investigators about $2.1 million in lost pay dating up to their projected retirement ages of 65 and 70 while also awarding each $175,000 in punitive damages.  The trial court later awarded them over $600,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs.  On appeal, the court upheld the liability and lost pay verdicts by reasoning that, “by using pension-eligibility, a factor closely correlated with age, as his primary basis for terminating employees, [Prosecutor] Avigliano risked a jury finding that he was using that criterion as a pretext to rid the office of older employees.”  The appellate panel reduced punitive damages to $50,000 each, largely on the basis that “punitive damage awards against public agencies must be scrutinized with great care because they are payable from public funds.”  The case is Brown, et al. v. County of Passaic, et al.

If you believe that you have an age discrimination case in New Jersey and would like additional information regarding age discrimination, please contact our NJ Age Discrimination Lawyers to discuss your potential claim.  All consultations are free and confidential.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.