TRENTON, N.J. (CN) – A New Jersey man who was fired by his brother can sue him for cutting off his insurance benefits while he was still employed, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled.
Fernando and Liliana Roa were fired separately from their jobs at LAFE Foods, where they worked for Fernando Roa’s brother, Marino Roa.
Fernando Roa claimed that his brother asked him to lie to Marino’s wife that a gift left by a woman for Marino was actually for Fernando. While Fernando agreed, he later told Marino’s wife the truth.
Marino responded by harassing his brother and sister-in-law and firing them separately later that year.
Liliana underwent surgery while Fernando was still employed. After both firings, they learned that Marino had cut off their insurance benefits while Fernando was still on the job.
The couple sued LAFE Foods for unlawful retaliation, but the trial court ruled that their claims were time-barred because they sued more than two years after both firings.
The Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s ruling on the firings but revived the insurance complaint since Fernando learned of the insurance problem less than two years after he sued. Justice Virginia Long ruled.
“Under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, the statute of limitations begins to run on a discrete retaliatory act, such as a discharge, on the date on which the act takes place, and a timely claim based on post-discharge retaliatory conduct does not sweep in a prior untimely discrete act which the victim knew or should have know gave rise to a retaliation claim,” Long wrote.
“However, a discrete post-discharge act of retaliation is independently actionable even if it does not relate to present or future employment, and evidence relating to barred claims may be admissible in the trial of the timely claim,” she added.