A recent New Jersey employment law decision in the case of Rosemary Beneduci vs. Graham Curtin, P.A. addressed when failing to offer an employee of one business entity a job with a second when the two merge constitutes an illegal employment practice under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. While the case involved two law firms, it would be equally applicable to any employers.
As the opinion explained them, the facts are relatively straightforward. Rosemary Beneduci was a long-time employee of Graham Curtin, P.A., a major New Jersey law firm. She had been on disability leave for knee replacement surgery. At the same time, Graham Curtin was merging with a second firm, McElroy Deutsch. When the merger was completed, McElroy would be the surviving firm. All of the attorneys and employees at Graham Curtain who did not leave for another firm were offered employment with McElroy except for Beneduci. All of them became employees of McElroy except for Beneduci and one part-time employee who chose to retire. The testimony indicated that Graham Curtin’s employees were hired based on the recommendation of its former managing partner; he recommended all the employees be hired by McElroy except for Beneduci. When Beneduci emailed the managing partner, her direct supervisor, that she would be returning to work, he met with her, terminated her and offered her a severance agreement. She rejected the agreement and sued Graham Curtain, its managing partner, and McElroy for violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.