An eight-member Hudson County jury has awarded a former City of Hoboken employee $440,000 in back wages for discrimination. In the lawsuit, former Public Safety Director Angel Alicea, who is Hispanic, alleged that he resigned from his position in 2011 after he suffered race discrimination and retaliation at the Hoboken Police Department. Alicea also claims Mayor Dawn Zimmer intentionally underpaid him, sought to replace him with a white man, and attempted to destroy his reputation.
When he resigned, Alicea was reportedly earning $27,000 per year in his part-time role with the city. He was later replaced by a full-time employee who earns $110,000 annually. At trial, Mayor Zimmer testified that Alicea was asked to resign after she discovered the former Public Safety Director lied to her about meeting with a key witness in a high profile sting operation. According to Alicea, the meeting Mayor Zimmer described never took place. Alicea stated he believes he was asked to resign under threat of being fired for disclosing alleged improprieties related to steroid use and drug testing within the department.
Although a majority of jurors found the City of Hoboken discriminated against Alicea, their verdict stated Mayor Zimmer did not engage in illegal race discrimination against the man. The next day, a separate hearing regarding punitive damages was cancelled after the parties reached a settlement agreement. That agreement is now pending approval before the Hoboken City Council.
Workers in New Jersey have a right under both state and federal law to sue for damages if they were unlawfully discriminated against. In order to recover compensation for illegal discrimination, however, employees must be part of a group that is protected by statute. A worker who is discriminated against based upon his or her race, age, religion, gender, pregnancy status, military status, disability, and more may have a discrimination claim against an employer.
As this case shows, employers often discriminate against protected classes of individuals by demoting, terminating, refusing to hire, or harassing them. In fact, the nation’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reportedly filed about 2,000 employment lawsuits in 2011 in the State of New Jersey alone. If you believe you suffered race or other discrimination in the workplace, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer to discuss your rights.
Please call the Resnick Law Group, P.C. at 973-781-1204 or 646-867-7997 if you were unlawfully discriminated against by a New Jersey or New York employer. The hardworking employment attorneys at the Resnick Law Group represent current and former employees in New Jersey and New York with matters involving workplace rights violations. To discuss your situation with a caring advocate, do not hesitate to contact the Resnick Law Group through our website today.
More Blog Posts:
New York Attorney General Announces Settlement Reached in Pregnancy Discrimination and Harassment Lawsuit Against Syracuse Mortuary School, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, December 6, 2013
New Jersey Law Protects Workers from Discrimination Prohibited by Proposed Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, December 5, 2013
Former public safety director Alicea wins suit against Hoboken, awarded $440K, by Michaelangelo Conte, nj.com
Hoboken, Alicea reach tentative settlement on damage award for former public safety director, by Jonathan Lin, nj.com
Photo credit: kconnors, morgueFile