Atlantic City settles wrongful termination claims of ex-worker

One of the more difficult issues a New Jersey business can encounter is the complaint of a disgruntled employee. The employer must balance its business mission along with an impartial and fair treatment of all employees. Sometimes, that is not possible. Complaints of wrongful termination or violations of a whistleblower protection law are common, with the litigation costs and potential bottom line exposure a threat to an otherwise solid business plan.

Atlantic City has encountered an ongoing problem with a former employee, dating back to the early 1990's. At one point during her career with the city, the woman was the Atlantic City Assistant Solicitor. In the late 1990's she was the city's acting chief of code enforcement. The woman, who is white, alleged she was being ordered to discipline only white employees. She also claims she was directed to hire only black workers regardless of their qualifications, in order to maintain a diverse workforce.

She was transferred from the position in 1995. She elected to sue the city in 2000. In 2004, she was awarded a $708,000 settlement, which was challenged by city appeals over the following two years. The award was ultimately reduced to $50,000.

In January 2006, the same woman was fired from her city job handling workers' compensation claims in the City Solicitor's Office. Once again she filed a lawsuit against her employer. The suit alleged wrongful termination of her employment, and the city undoubtedly found itself facing years of litigation with a former employee who had apparently initiatated legal difficulties in the past. With the second lawsuit now four years old, the City announced on October 5 that it had agreed to settle all outstanding issues for the sum of $300,000.

Source: The Press Of Atlantic City, " Atlantic City to pay $300,000 to settle wrongful-termination lawsuit filed by Cheryl Erhart," Emily Previti, Oct. 5, 2011

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