June 14, 2007
JULES GEFTIC, RICHARD GORE AND REGINA KAMLET BROOKS, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
LIVINGSTON BOARD OF EDUCATION AND ROBERT GRADY, SUPERINTENDENT, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, L-10096-02.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued June 5, 2007
Before Judges Coburn, Axelrad and Gilroy.
Plaintiffs, Jules Geftic, Richard Gore, and Regina Kamlet Brooks appeal from the Law Division's August 19, 2005, summary judgment dismissing their complaint for hostile work environment and age discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -49.
On appeal, they offer the following contentions:
BECAUSE PLAINTIFFS ESTABLISHED A PRIMA FACIE CASE BELOW, THE COURT ERRED IN GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT.
THE FACTS IN THIS CASE COULD LEAD A REASONABLE JURY TO CONCLUDE THAT THE DISTRICT'S STATED REASON FOR THE TRANSFERS WAS A PRETEXT.
THE COURT BELOW, WITHOUT MAKING ANY RELATED FACTUAL FINDINGS ERRONEOUSLY HELD THAT PLAINTIFFS DID NOT ESTABLISH A HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT CLAIM.
THE FACTS HEREIN ARE SUFFICIENT TO CONSTITUTE EGREGIOUS CONDUCT AND SUPPORT A PUNITIVE DAMAGES AWARD.
After carefully considering the record and briefs, we are satisfied that all of their arguments are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion, R. 2:11- 3(e)(1)(E), and we affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Santiago in her well-reasoned oral opinion delivered on August 19, 2005. In reaching that conclusion, we take note that the facts are uncontested and may be summarized as follows:
Geftic, age fifty, was transferred to a more prestigious school. Nevertheless, he complained that he was unfamiliar with the skills of his new students, he was no longer allowed to leave work an hour early, and was asked to write his lesson plans more legibly.
Gore, age sixty-one, was transferred from sixth grade to fifth grade at another school in the district, but teaching the same subjects. He complains that he had less collegial time and was criticized for aspects of his performance. He retired in 2002 because of the above harassment and because he was directed to teach a class one grade lower in the new school.
Brooks, age sixty-one, also was moved to a new school and was required to teach the fifth grade instead of continuing to teach the sixth grade. She, too, had less time for collegiality. After she announced she was getting married, the superintendent asked if she planned to retire, which she considered harassment. She retired two months later.
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