Court Refuses to Dismiss Age and Handicap Discrimination Against Employer

Gregory S. Schaer, a Monmouth County based New Jersey Employment Attorney located in Manalapan, represented the employee in a lawsuit against their employer alleging claims of age and handicap discrimination.

In Lawrence v. National Westminster Bank New Jersey , 98 F.3d 61 (3d Cir. 1996), the plaintiff, Albert Lawrence, was hired by Citizen’s First National Bank of New Jersey which later became National Westminster Bank New Jersey in October 1979 as Vice President/Chief Investment Officer of the Trust Department. In 1985, he was promoted to the position of Senior Vice President/Chief Investment Officer.

In June 1987, Mr. Lawrence was injured in a car accident and sustained severe back injuries. Beginning in or about 1992, the Bank claimed that Mr. Lawrence’s level of performance substantially deteriorated and on September 3, 1993, at the age of 60, Mr. Lawrence was terminated for alleged substandard performance.  Mr. Lawrence claimed that he was wrongfully terminated and that he was fired because of his age and/or his physical condition asserting claims for age and handicap discrimination.

The District Court granted the bank’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the employee’s claims. On appeal, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court’s dismissal of the employee’s age and handicap discrimination claims and reinstated those claims for trial.

The Bank relied upon Mr. Lawrence’s last performance evaluation which the Bank claimed rated Mr. Lawrence’s performance as being below standards. Mr. Lawrence challenged the credibility of the evaluation claiming that the report was unsigned, undated, incomplete and never provided to him during his employment.

The Bank also relied upon a Memorandum detailing several reasons why Mr. Lawrence was not the “right person” to lead the Bank in the future and should be replaced in that position.

The court held that a jury could find that the Memorandum was prepared as an after the fact justification for the discriminatory employment decision. The evidence indicated that the Memo was written at the direction of the Bank’s Human Resource Office once the termination decision was made. Furthermore, at his deposition, the manager conceded that he had no reason to believe that Mr. Lawrence was incapable in performing his job.

To substantiate his claims, Mr. Lawrence relied upon the depositions of his subordinates which portrayed his performance in a favorable light. Co-workers gave testimony at their depositions which contradicted the claims that the Bank made about Mr. Lawrence’s performance.

To speak with an experienced New Jersey Employment Law Attorney, contact the Law Offices of Gregory S. Schaer, LLC, conveniently located in Monmouth County, New Jersey.