Keansburg, NJ asked in Employment Law, Employment Discrimination and Civil Rights for New Jersey

Q: Do i have a case?

For a year, Ive been working at a restaurant as a server where the owner has repeatedly treated me differently than my peers. On my first day on the floor, I was written up for eating a piece of bread, whereas my co-workers have NEVER received anything remotely close to such punishment. I wasnt given so much as a warning. He has a manager that says the word "nigg-r" repeatedly. The owner has given tables in my section to a more attractive inexperienced female co-worker. Most recently, ive been REMOVED from the schedule for inquiring as to why a table that was set to be my own was yet again given to another attractive inexperienced co-worker. Not fired. Not suspended. Simply, removed from the schedule until further notice. I am damn good at what i do. I work VERY hard. Ive picked up shifts when needed. I'm punctual. I consistently receive accolades from my guests. I have 20 years of experience. I love what i do and I literally strive to be a model employee but i can't help but feel disc

1 Lawyer Answer
William N. Sosis
William N. Sosis
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Hackettstown, NJ
  • Licensed in New Jersey

A: I'm assuming you're a member of a protected class and the discrimination you're feeling is based on race, national origin, sex, age, disability, creed, etc. There are state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination but unless you're working under some employment contract you are considered an at-will employee. So long as you're not terminated for discriminatory reasons being an at-will-employee drastically limits your rights. It's always a hard pill to swallow when people discover what few rights they have as an at-will employee. That's not to say you can't file a lawsuit, but other than the undignified treatment you've received it would be difficult for you to win your case when you haven't suffered any damages that can be quantified and recognized by a court in terms of dollars. You can be sure your case will take a long time to decide, become prohibitively expensive, and you're employer will deny everything and argue that you're only retaliating for being fairly judged as a sub-standard employee. So you need to ask yourself if you think it will be worth it when it's all over. There's likely no doubt that you're receiving disparate treatment on your job and your employer is a reprehensible person for allowing it. But maybe it's best for you to seek out another job where your experience and work ethic can be appreciated and where you're treated fairly. If you don't like this option you should start collecting evidence and a detailed log of everything that occurs at your current job. This way you'll be better prepared in the event you're wrongfully terminated and want to file a complaint with the EEOC or through an attorney under New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination (LAD). N.J.S.A. 10:5-1, et seq.

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