New Jersey Supreme Court says refusal to renew former college dean's contract was age discrimination
June 2, 2010
Refusing to renew a contract with a worker because of age violates New Jersey’s anti-discrimination law, the state Supreme Court ruled today.
The decision, in the case of a former college dean who worked under a series of multi-year contracts, says the law applies as it would to an "at will" employee.
Citing significant public interest, the court issued a ruling even though former college dean Rose Nini and Mercer County Community College settled and were seeking to have the case dismissed after the justices heard oral arguments.
"It’s a good legacy — she changed the law," said Lawrenceville attorney Steven Blader, who represents Nini. "There are literally thousands of people in New Jersey ... physicians that work at hospitals (who work under contracts). ... Now they can’t refuse to renew contracts based on a person’s age."
Claiming age discrimination, Nini, now 78, sued in September 2005, three months after the college did not renew her contract when it expired. Nini had worked under several contracts at the college for 26 years and held various positions that culminated in her becoming dean of corporate and community programs.
She said that in August 2004, the school’s then-president, Dr. Robert Rose, "made it very clear to (her) that he thought (she) had no right to be working at (her) age," according to the decision.
A trial court found Nini was not protected by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination because her separation — which gave her a year’s notice — was not a termination. That court found instead that Nini was not rehired.