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McCann v. Marina

December 18, 2009

ROBERT MCCANN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
TRUMP MARINA AND MARY LOU SPATOLA, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, Docket No. L-8180-02.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted November 12, 2009

Before Judges Payne and Waugh.

Plaintiff Robert McCann appeals the dismissal on summary judgment of his employment discrimination action against defendants Trump Marina and Mary Lou Spatola, his manager. We affirm.

McCann was employed as a marketing representative by Trump Marina from March to November of 2001 or 2002, he was uncertain which. He and his entire department were laid off due to a financial crisis at Trump Marina, just before Thanksgiving of the same year. Some of his co-employees were subsequently either rehired to the same position or placed at other Trump properties. However, McCann offered no proof that he had ever applied for rehire or sought transfer to another Trump property.

McCann filed suit alleging that he had been terminated in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -49. He also alleged that he had been subjected to a hostile work environment during the term of his employment. He alleged discrimination based upon race, African-American, and gender, male. He also alleged that he was terminated in retaliation for filing a grievance concerning the hostile work environment.

After a period of discovery, defendants moved for summary judgment. McCann opposed the motion, arguing that there were genuine issues of material fact precluding a disposition of his claims on motion. After hearing oral argument on May 30, 2008, Judge Gwendolyn Blue granted summary judgment and dismissed McCann's claims. Judge Blue explained her reasons in a comprehensive oral decision, which sets forth her factual and legal conclusions. We affirm essentially for the reasons set forth by Judge Blue, adding only the following.

When reviewing a grant of summary judgment, we employ the same standards used by the motion judge. Atl. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Hillside Bottling Co., 387 N.J. Super. 224, 230 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 189 N.J. 104 (2006). We first determine whether the moving party has demonstrated there were no genuine disputes as to material facts; we then decide whether the motion judge's application of the law was correct. Id. at 230-31. We apply the standards articulated by the Supreme Court in Brill v. Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America, 142 N.J. 520, 540 (1995):

[A] determination whether there exists a "genuine issue" of material fact that precludes summary judgment requires the motion judge to consider whether the competent evidential materials presented, when viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, are sufficient to permit a rational factfinder to resolve the alleged disputed issue in favor of the non-moving party.

We are satisfied that Judge Blue applied the appropriate standard in deciding the motion before her.

In analyzing claims brought under the LAD, "[o]ur Supreme Court has adopted the three-step burden-shifting analysis first developed by the United States Supreme Court in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed. 2d 668 (1973)." El-Sioufi v. St. Peter's Univ. Hosp., 382 N.J. Super. 145, 166 (App. Div. 2005) (citing Jansen v. Food Circus Supermarkets, Inc., 110 N.J. 363, 382 (1988); Peper v. Princeton Univ. Bd. of Trustees, 77 N.J. 55, 82 (1978)).

[T]he court first determines whether plaintiff has produced sufficient evidence to demonstrate the elements of his or her prima facie case. If so, then the burden shifts to the employer to produce evidence of "legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons" that support its employment actions. Once the employer has done so, the burden shifts back to plaintiff to prove ...


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