Console Mattiacci Law, LLC won a jury verdict in federal court on behalf of former employee, Mike Jackson, in a disability discrimination and retaliation case against the casino, Golden Nugget of Atlantic City. Mr. Jackson was represented by lead trial counsel, Laura C. Mattiacci and was assisted by Lane J. Schiff, both of Console Mattiacci Law, LLC. The verdict was rendered on December 13, 2016, after a six day trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey before the Honorable Joseph H. Rodriguez.
Mr. Jackson had worked at the Trump Marina as a dealer and dual-rate supervisor for 25 years when he was diagnosed with throat cancer. After medical leave for treatment, which included the removal of a salivary gland and radiation that caused damage to his throat, he returned to the workplace needing an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) to have water with him at all times and to be able to chew gums that promote salivation. Mr. Jackson alleged that he was granted this accommodation for nine months, but that in March of 2011, when the Golden Nugget was in the process of purchasing the Trump Marina, he was told he needed to submit medical forms to substantiate his need for the accommodation, which he did, but then was denied the accommodation. Mr. Jackson alleged he complained to management and human resources about the denial of water and gum, but nothing was done. Approximately two months later, when the sale of the property was finalized, all Trump Marina employees, including Mr. Jackson, lost their jobs. However, Golden Nugget hired 85% of the workforce to stay on board with Golden Nugget – Mr. Jackson was not hired. The Defendants claimed that Mr. Jackson never complained about the accommodation denial and that he was not hired because he had a history of being hostile and negative toward management, was unsupportive of management, and was unable to adapt to change. The case was originally against Trump Entertainment entities as well as Golden Nugget entities, however, after litigation commenced, the Trump defendants filed for bankruptcy and were dismissed from the case, resulting in Mr. Jackson’s failure to accommodate claim being dismissed. The trial proceeded against Golden Nugget for failure to hire due to disability discrimination and retaliation under the ADA and New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”).
The jury found that Mr. Jackson’s disability was a determinative factor in Golden Nugget’s decision not to hire him. They also found that his request for an accommodation and/or alleged complaint regarding the failure to accommodate him was a determinative factor in Golden Nugget’s decision not to hire him. The jury was asked only to assess “compensatory damages” (compensation for pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, or loss of enjoyment of life) as a result of the failure to hire and returned a unanimous verdict of $340,000. Mr. Jackson, who made approximately $48,000 a year, also has back-pay losses of approximately $170,000 as well as front-pay losses, the award of which will be determined by the Judge. A petition for reimbursement of attorneys’ fees and costs will also be submitted, which Mr. Jackson’s counsel believes should bring the final award to approximately $1 million.
About Console Mattiacci Law, LLC
Console Mattiacci Law, LLC is an employment rights law firm with offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Moorestown, New Jersey. Since its inception in 1990, the firm has focused its practice on the representation of current, former and potential employees concerning work-related matters. The lawyers at Console Mattiacci Law, LLC counsel whistleblower-employees who have been retaliated against and individuals who have been victimized by illegal employment discrimination and retaliation, including sex, race, religion, disability and age discrimination and sexual harassment at work. They also represent employees concerning medical leaves, disability benefits, wage and hour claims, employment contracts, severance agreements, stock option plans, and class action lawsuits. For more information visit: www.consolelaw.com or call Console Mattiacci Law, LLC at 215-545-7676.