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Good news: You don’t have to worry spouse will sue under NJLAD

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Here’s one less thing you have to worry about if an employee files a New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) lawsuit against your organization: That employee’s spouse can’t hitch a ride on the lawsuit express.

A federal trial court has ruled that the NJLAD doesn’t allow so-called “loss-of-consortium” claims in which a husband or wife sues for allegedly losing their spouse’s comfort and care.

Recent case: When Henry McKinnon, who worked for the Federal Correctional Institution at Fort Dix, N.J., sued for alleged sex discrimination under Title VII and the NJLAD, his wife joined in the lawsuit. She alleged that because her husband had been harmed by sex discrimination, she had been, too.

The loss-of-consortium claim, if allowed, would let spouses sue for the pain and suffering they endured because their spouses became depressed, lost interest in life or otherwise were not the same persons as before.

The court tossed out Mrs. McKinnon’s claim, concluding that nothing in the NJLAD allows such derivative claims. (McKinnon v. Gonzales, et al., No. 07-1694, DC NJ, 2008)

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