Employee Choices for Challenging Discipline
In a recent unpublished decision, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court addressed the employment law issue of jurisdiction for appealing discipline of tenured school employees.
When a New Jersey government employee faces discipline, there are several avenues for relief depending on the nature of the alleged wrong by the employer and the relief sought. If the alleged violation is one of constitutional rights, discrimination, or whistleblowing retaliation, the employee can sue in New Jersey state or federal court, or appeal in an administrative forum. The choice will depend on the relief sought. If the employee does not want to continue working for the employer or does not care about correcting the discipline, but rather only cares about collecting money damages, then she would sue in court (New Jersey state courts and New Jersey law provide greater procedural and substantive advantages for employees, so they usually file in the Superior Court rather than federal court). If the employee is more concerned about getting her job back or correcting the discipline, often the administrative route (which can also provide back pay) is the best choice. When there are no issues of constitutional rights, or discrimination or retaliation, then the administrative route is the only option.