The New Jersey Appellate Division has reversed the trial court’s dismissal of an out of state resident’s claim of age discrimination under New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. The decision is an important reminder to employers that New Jersey’s strong public policy to eradicate discriminate in all its ugly forms may extend to non-New Jersey residents who suffer from discrimination that is protected under the New Jersey state law.
In the case Trevejo v. Legal Cost Control, Inc., and John Marquess, the employee, Susan Trevejo, lived in Massachusetts and worked remotely from her home for the employer, whose principal place of business was located in Haddonfield, New Jersey. In claiming that she had standing to sue under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, Ms. Trevejo pointed out the fact that she was provided a company computer to connect to the company’s corporate server in New Jersey and a company phone to communicate with other company employees, some of whom lived and worked in New Jersey. The employer argued that Ms. Trevino was never a resident of New Jersey at any point in her employment, never lived in New Jersey and never sought or received any benefits from the state of New Jersey. The employer also pointed out the fact that although Ms. Trevejo had traveled to New Jersey for business at times during her employment, she had not done so any time from 2009 through 2015.
Twelve years into her employment, the employer terminated Ms. Trevejo’s employment. In response, Ms. Trevejo filed a lawsuit alleging age discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. During the lawsuit, Ms. Trevejo’s employment lawyers requested broad discovery to prove she was entitled to pursue her age discrimination claims under New Jersey’s discrimination laws, including the nature and substance of her electronic and other virtual contact and connection to the employers’ New Jersey office as part of her day-to-day work activities.