Mashel Law Argues Before Appellate Division
Peter D. Valenzano, Esquire of our firm appeared before the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division to argue the motion court below erred as a matter of law when it enforced an arbitration agreement barring Mashel Law’s client, a victim of workplace sexual harassment, from pursuing punitive damages in arbitration for the harms caused to her by her former employer and supervisor. Mr. Valenzano explained to the three-judge appellate panel sitting in Trenton, New Jersey, that allowing employers to circumvent the statutory remedy of punitive damages provided in New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) runs contrary to the stated public policy embodied in the LAD which seeks to “eradicate the cancer of discrimination”, and the LAD’s prohibition against employer interference with employee’s rights under the statute.
A second question presented by this appeal is whether Mashel Law’s client knowingly and voluntarily entered into the subject arbitration agreement. On this point, Mr. Valenzano argued the motion court erred in concluding as a matter of law that our client knowingly and voluntarily entered into the arbitration agreement. Mr. Valenzano pointed out how the record below is replete with material issues of fact in dispute on this issue as to whether client understood the arbitration agreement served to waive her right to a jury trial and statutory right to pursue punitive damages under the LAD at the time she signed it. Mr. Valenzano argued the motion court should have permitted discovery and/or convened a plenary hearing, to develop material facts sufficient to decide as a matter of law if our client had knowingly and voluntarily entered the arbitration agreement.
The Appellate Division is expected to render a decision regarding this appeal in the near future.