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Foster v. New Jersey Dep't of Transportation

December 27, 2005

LILLIAN FOSTER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cooper, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

The plaintiff pro se - Lillian Foster - brought this action ("Federal Action"), inter alia, to recover damages for employment discrimination. The defendants - (1) New Jersey Department of Transportation ("NJDOT"), (2) Nicholas Monahan, an employee of NJDOT, (3) Gregory B. Vida, an employee of NJDOT, (4) New Jersey Department of Labor ("Labor Department"), and (5) Joseph J. Doherty, an employee of the Labor Department - move to dismiss the complaint. (Dkt. entry no. 37.) Foster cross-moves for miscellaneous relief. (Dkt. entry no. 41.) The Court will:

(1) deny as moot the part of the motion seeking relief for (a) NJDOT as to certain claims, and (b) Monahan;

(2) deny without prejudice the part of the motion seeking relief for NJDOT and Vida as to the claims asserted against them to recover damages for defamation;

(3) grant the part of the motion seeking dismissal of the complaint insofar as asserted against the Labor Department and Doherty under federal law;

(4) deny without prejudice the part of the motion seeking dismissal of the complaint insofar as asserted against the Labor Department and Doherty under state law;

(5) deny the cross motion; and

(6) dismiss the claims asserted against (a) NJDOT and Vida to recover damages for defamation, and (b) the Labor Department and Doherty under state law, without prejudice to reinstate in state court.

BACKGROUND

Foster, a former NJDOT employee, claims she (1) is Jewish, (2) has bipolar disorder, and (3) suffered discrimination at NJDOT due to her religion and mental disability. (Compl., at 2,4.) The parties fail to provide a succinct time-line of relevant facts underlying her claims. The Court provides the following.

I. August 2002

Foster was terminated from her NJDOT employment following a proceeding brought before the New Jersey Merit System Board ("MSB"). But the MSB deemed her to have resigned in good standing because her misconduct at issue was caused by "her mental disorder," and thus the penalty of removal would be too harsh. (Id. at 9; see 5-24-05 Pl. Aff., Ex. S, 8-6-02 MSB Dec.)

Foster brought an action in New Jersey Superior Court soon thereafter ("State Court Action") against, among others, NJDOT and Monahan, inter alia, to recover damages for employment discrimination. (5-10-04 Lim Aff., Ex. F, 8-02 State Ct. Compl.)

II. November - December 2002

Foster, while the State Court Action was pending, sought to be reinstated to NJDOT employment by Monahan in November 2002. (Compl., at 10; see 5-24-04 Pl. Aff., Ex. G, 11-22-02 Letter.) She also took an exam for a position with the Labor Department in December 2002. (Compl., at 10.)

III. January - October 2003

Foster filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") in January 2003 concerning the termination of her NJDOT employment ("First Charge"). (Compl., at 3.) A copy of the First Charge has not been provided, but Foster apparently asserted violations of federal law under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") only.

The Superior Court granted a motion to dismiss the complaint in the State Court Action - to which Foster filed opposition papers - in March 2003, and denied her motion for reconsideration in June 2003. (See 5-10-04 Lim Aff., Exs. A & B, 3-03 Ord. (noting Foster opposed motion) & 6-03 Ord.) Foster apparently did not appeal from either order to the New Jersey Appellate Division.

Further administrative proceedings were being conducted while the State Court Action was pending. Those proceedings culminated in yet another MSB decision, dated August 15, 2003, wherein NJDOT's refusal to reinstate her was upheld ("August 2003 MSB Decision"). (5-24-05 Pl. Aff., Ex. U, 8-15-03 MSB Dec.)

Foster was bypassed twice for employment with the Labor Department in September 2003 ("2003 Labor Bypasses"). (5-24-05 Pl. Aff., Ex. Y, 5-18-05 MSB Dec., at 1-2.) Foster "appealed" those "bypasses to the Division of Human Resource Information Services (HRIS)." (Id. at 2.) However, in a "decision dated October 21, 2003, HRIS found" that the bypasses were proper. (Id.)

Vida - rather than Monahan - denied Foster's reinstatement request in October 2003. Vida asserted that the MSB's decision to deem her to have resigned in good standing was not reached in order to allow her to obtain employment with NJDOT again. (See 5-24-04 Pl. Aff., Exs. G-4 & G-6, 10-03 Vida Letters.)

IV. November 2003

Foster received a right-to-sue notice upon her First Charge. (Compl., Ex. A.) The notice listed the ADA only. (Id.)

V. December 24, 2003

Foster filed an EEOC charge concerning the 2003 Labor Bypasses ("Second Charge"). (3-18-05 Pl. Br., at 8; 3-18-05 Pl. Aff., Ex. L., 12-24-03 Charge.) She asserted the Labor Department discriminated against her for "disability" - specifically "biological mental disability/bipolar disorder" - only; she raised no other allegations. (Id.)

VI. January - ...


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