On appeal from the Superior Court, Law Division, Middlesex County
Gaulkin, Scalera and D'Annunzio.
Plaintiff, a non-tenured industrial arts teacher, brought this action pursuant to the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), N.J.S.A. 34:19-1 et seq., after defendant terminated his employment. His complaint demanded a jury trial. Defendant moved unsuccessfully to strike that demand. We granted defendant's motion for leave to appeal and now reverse.
We regard Shaner v. Horizon Bancorp., 116 N.J. 433, 561 A.2d 1130 (1989) to be controlling. Shaner found neither statutory authorization nor any constitutional requirement for jury trial of claims brought under the Law Against Discrimination (LAD), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq. The Court based its holding on a number of considerations, including that an LAD action is "more in the nature of an equitable than a legal cause of action" (Shaner, 116 N.J. at 441, 561 A.2d 1130), that the absence of any reference in the LAD to jury trial is "highly indicative of legislative intent not to confer such a right" (id. at 443, 561 A.2d 1130), that available relief under the LAD "is predominantly equitable in nature" and that LAD claims "do not supplant claims that might be cognizable by our courts in contract or tort." Id. at 453, 561 A.2d 1130.
Those considerations are equally applicable here. CEPA makes no reference to jury trial at all. The relief available under CEPA, as set forth in N.J.S.A. 34:19-5, is predominantly equitable in nature:
a. An injunction to restrain continued violation of this act;
b. The reinstatement of the employee to the same position held before the retaliatory action, or to an equivalent position;
c. The reinstatement of full fringe benefits and seniority rights;
d. The compensation for lost wages, benefits and other remuneration;
e. The payment by the employer of reasonable costs, and attorney's fees;
g. An assessment of a civil fine of not more than $1,000.00 for the first violation of the act and not more than $5,000.00 for each subsequent violation, which shall be paid to the State ...