Piro Zinna Cifelli Paris & Genitempo, LLC Attorneys at law
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Town's first female police officer wins discrimination case

It was a discrimination lawsuit decades in the making -- but a retired New Jersey police officer who once held the rank of detective has finally won a discrimination lawsuit against the township officials who unfairly denied her lifetime medical coverage once she retired.

When the female officer -- who had been the first woman ever hired by the township -- retired in 2010, she had already endured what she believed was discrimination and retaliation while on the job.

The woman had started with the police department in 1986 as a dispatcher -- one of the few jobs readily open to women in the police force at the time. She worked her way upward into the actual unit as a patrol officer and then became a full-fledged detective in 2000.

In 2010, she had to take time off work due to an injury to her finger, and she was promptly demoted back to being an officer and handed a desk job and a pay cut of $3,000. She filed a grievance against the township over the demotion, although she also ended up retiring. She claims that the denial of her lifetime health benefits -- which is due to any public employee who has put in 25 years of service -- was retaliation for filing the grievance.

At issue is whether or not a year the officer spent working for the state Motor Vehicle Commission prior to becoming a dispatcher counts toward her 25-year requirement. Without that year being counted, she fell just short of entitlement to health coverage. Township officials claim she had waived her year of service as part of a union agreement, making her ineligible for the ongoing health benefits she believed she had when she retired.

The New Jersey court disagreed. Jurors felt that she had been discriminated against merely for being a woman and awarded her the substantial judgment to cover her past and future health expenses.

If you believe that you've been victimized by gender discrimination, talk to an attorney about your experience to see if you have the possibility of a discrimination-based case. New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination (LAD) is one of the strongest in the nation when it comes to protecting the rights of individuals against unfair treatment.

Source: NJ.com, "N,J. town's 1st woman police officer wins $355K in discrimination case," Tom Haydon, April 24, 2017

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