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Johnson v. State

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

July 3, 2013

KENNETH JOHNSON, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, JOHN J. FARMER, STATE OF NEW JERSEY-DIVISION OF STATE POLICE, COLONEL CARSON DUNBAR, SUPERINTENDENT OF THE DIVISION OF STATE POLICE, RICHARD E. TOUW, ROBERT D. DUNLOP, EDGAR J. HESS, RICHARD H. LANE, FRANK M. SIMONETTA, DEAN K. SASSAMAN, DAN PILLA and JOSEPH REPHSA, Defendants-Respondents, and FRED H. MADDEN, Defendant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued May 28, 2013 [1]

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Docket No. L-1265-01.

Daniel Louis Grossman argued the cause for appellant.

Vincent J. Rizzo, Jr., argued the cause for respondent (Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney; Melissa H. Raksa, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel and on the brief; Andrew J. Sarrol, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Before Judges Espinosa and Guadagno.

PER CURIAM

Kenneth Johnson appeals from the October 6, 2011 order of the Law Division granting summary judgment to defendants and dismissing plaintiff's complaint alleging a hostile work environment, disparate treatment, and discrimination in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -49, and the New Jersey Constitution. We affirm.

I.

Plaintiff entered the New Jersey State Police Academy in 1982. While at the Academy, plaintiff, who is African-American, claims he was subjected to race discrimination by his peers and superiors. Plaintiff graduated from the Academy in 1983 and worked as a road Trooper from 1983 to 1987. During this time period, plaintiff claims that other Troopers transmitted racial slurs over the police radio and ordered plaintiff to target minorities when making traffic stops.

Plaintiff was promoted to Detective in 1987. From 1987 to 1988, plaintiff was assigned to the State Government Securities Unit (SGSU), where he claims he was treated as an inferior and subject to derogatory language. In October 1988, plaintiff was transferred to the Investigations Bureau. He claims his superiors transferred him out of the SGSU to avoid having to promote him, however plaintiff was promoted to Detective II in 1990 and Detective I in 1992.

In 1992, plaintiff claims that his supervisor, Trooper Daniel O'Connor, pasted images of Al Jolson into the credentials of minorities. After plaintiff complained to his Lieutenant, Trooper O'Connor was disciplined with a summary court-martial.

In 1993, plaintiff was asked by Lieutenant Richard Touw to join the newly-created Cargo Theft Unit (CTU). Plaintiff joined CTU in September 1993 and remained there until March 1994 when he was transferred to the Auto Unit. Plaintiff claims that during his time in the CTU, Lieutenant Touw discriminated against him, however, plaintiff's only support for this allegation was that Lieutenant Touw gave plaintiff a poor performance evaluation and gave another officer credit for plaintiff's work. Plaintiff was unable to identify any specific actions by Lieutenant Touw to support his claim. Plaintiff also claims that he was given older cars and less efficient equipment because he was a minority, but offers no factual support for this allegation.

Plaintiff was promoted to Detective Sergeant in February 2003; to Detective Sergeant First Class in December 2004; and to Lieutenant in January 2008. Plaintiff claims he should have been promoted sooner to each position, but failed to provide any substantiation that he was denied promotions based on discriminatory reasons. Moreover, plaintiff was the subject of several disciplinary ...


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