United States District Court, D. New Jersey
F. MEIL On behalf of Plaintiff
J. WAGNER, AMY L. WYNKOOP, LAW OFFICES OF THOMAS J. WAGNER,
On behalf of Defendant County of Salem
CHRISTINE P. O'HEARN CHRISTOPHER ALBERT REESE BROWN &
CONNERY, LLP On behalf of Defendant Rowan College at
Gloucester County Gloucester County Police Academy
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
case concerns claims by Plaintiff, Tiffany O'Leary,
against Defendants the County of Salem and Rowan College at
Gloucester County Gloucester County Police Academy
("RCGC") for discrimination based on sex,
disability, and whistleblowing activity. Plaintiff worked as
a Corrections Officer at Salem County Correctional Facility
("SCCF"), and after several years in that position,
Plaintiff's employment with Salem County changed from a
corrections officer to a Salem County Sheriff's Officer
Recruit. She left her position at SCCF and began attending
the RCGC. Ultimately she was dismissed from the police
academy. As a result, she could not become a Sheriff's
Officer and SCCF denied Plaintiff's request to return to
her position as a corrections officer.
filed the instant suit against Salem County and RCGC alleging
numerous violations of her rights under the New Jersey Law
Against Discrimination (NJLAD), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq., the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12111
et seq., Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e et seq., and the New Jersey Contentious Employee
Protection Act (CEPA), N.J.S.A. 34:19-1 et seq. Salem County and
RCGC moved for summary judgment, and the Court granted in
part and denied in part their motions. (Docket No. 86, 87.)
County has moved for reconsideration of the Court's
decision on three points. First, Salem County argues that the
Court erroneously permitted a hostile work environment claim
under the NJLAD to proceed against it, separate from
Plaintiff's hostile work environment under Title VII,
even though Plaintiff does not assert that specific claim in
her complaint. Second, Salem County argues that the Court did
not consider its exhaustion of administrative remedies
argument relative to the Title VII hostile work environment
claim against the Sheriff's Office. Third, Salem County
argues that the Order accompanying the Opinion should be
amended to reflect Plaintiff's concession that her
retaliation claims under the NJLAD should be dismissed.
opposition to Salem County's motion, Plaintiff argues
that all the parties considered a hostile work environment
claim under the NJLAD to be in the case during the entire
course of discovery, and that Salem County moved for summary
judgment on that claim, never contending that it was not
pleaded in Plaintiff's complaint. Plaintiff further
argues that her complaint can easily be read to plead such a
claim, and if more particularity is needed, she should be
granted leave to amend her complaint to specify that
claim. Plaintiff also argues that she satisfied
her exhaustion of administrative remedies for her Title VII
claim. With regard to Salem County's request to amend the
Order, Plaintiff does not object.
motion for reconsideration may be treated as a motion to
alter or amend judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), or as a
motion for relief from judgment or order under Fed.R.Civ.P.
60(b), or it may be filed pursuant to Local Civil Rule
7.1(i). The purpose of a motion for reconsideration "is
to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly
discovered evidence." Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel.
Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir.
1999). A judgment may be altered or amended only if the party
seeking reconsideration shows: (1) an intervening change in
the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence
that was not available when the court granted the motion for
summary judgment; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of
law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice. Id. A
motion for reconsideration may not be used to re-litigate old
matters or argue new matters that could have been raised
before the original decision was reached, P. Schoenfeld
Asset Mgmt., L.L.C. v. Cendant Corp., 161 F.Supp.2d 349,
352 (D.N.J. 2001), and mere disagreement with the Court will
not suffice to show that the Court overlooked relevant facts
or controlling law, United States v. Compaction Sys.
Corp., 88 F.Supp.2d 339, 345 (D.N.J. 1999), and should
be dealt with through the normal appellate process, S.C.
ex rel. C.C. v. Deptford Twp Bd. of Educ, 248 F.Supp.2d
368, 381 (D.N.J. 2003); U.S. v. Tuerk, 317 Fed.Appx.
251, 253 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Mayberry v.
Maroney, 529 F.2d 332, 336 (3d Cir. 1976)) (stating that
"relief under Rule 60(b) is 'extraordinary, '
and 'may only be invoked upon a showing of exceptional
Court will address Salem County's arguments in turn.
Whether the Court erroneously permitted a hostile work
environment claim under the NJLAD to proceed against Salem
County's moving brief in support of its motion for
summary judgment argued that Plaintiff's evidence failed
to support a hostile work environment claim against SCCF and
the Sheriff's Office. Neither the brief's opening
"statement of question presented" nor its argument
section distinguished claims brought under the NJLAD and
Title VII. (Docket No. 64 at 24, 32-33.) Plaintiff's
opposition brief argued that both her NJLAD and Title VII
hostile work environment claims should be permitted to
proceed, and she set forth the standards for both claims.
(Docket No. 73 at 34-35.) Salem County's reply brief
again did not distinguish between the two claims and did not
specifically object to Plaintiff's assertion of both
claims, arguing instead (citing mostly to cases involving the
NJLAD) for summary judgment on Plaintiff's hostile work
environment claims in general. (Docket No. 8 at 8-9.)
the parties presented to the Court arguments for and against
the viability of hostile work environment claims under Title
VII and the NLJAD, it is evident they both considered a
hostile work environment claim under the NJLAD to be a part
of Plaintiff's complaint. To the extent that Salem County
has changed its previous point of view by discovering after
the fact that Plaintiff's complaint does not specifically
aver a violation of the NJLAD for hostile work environment,
the Court finds, consistent with the parties' conduct up
until the date the Court issued its Opinion, that such a
claim can be fairly construed from Plaintiff's complaint
and remains viable.
the complaint is the blueprint of the case, the Court will
grant Plaintiff's request to amend her complaint to
assert a specific count as to Salem County's alleged
violation of the NJLAD for fostering a hostile work
environment.See Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2)
(providing that the Court "should freely give
leave" to a plaintiff to file an amended complaint
"when justice so requires"). Amendment is proper
under these circumstances because there is no undue delay,
bad faith, dilatory motive, unfair prejudice, or futility of
amendment. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293
F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002) ...