Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

O'Leary v. County of Salem Correctional Facility & Sheriffs Office

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 25, 2018

TIFFANY O'LEARY, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF SALEM CORRECTIONAL FACILITY AND SHERIFFS OFFICE and ROWAN COLLEGE AT GLOUCESTER COUNTY GLOUCESTER COUNTY POLICE ACADEMY, Defendants.

          SARAH F. MEIL On behalf of Plaintiff

          THOMAS 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

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         This 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.

         Plaintiff 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.[1] Salem County and RCGC moved for summary judgment, and the Court granted in part and denied in part their motions. (Docket No. 86, 87.)

         Salem 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.

         In 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.[2] 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.

         A 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 circumstances'").

         The Court will address Salem County's arguments in turn.

         (1) Whether the Court erroneously permitted a hostile work environment claim under the NJLAD to proceed against Salem County.

         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.)

         Because 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.

         Because 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.[3]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) ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.