Gibbs v. Caswell-Massey, et al., Docket No. A-2996-10T4 (App. Div. Oct. 20, 2011) – The Appellate Division held that a decision of the Unemployment Compensation Appeals Tribunal – that the plaintiff was not fired for cause and was eligible for benefits – was a basis to deny summary judgment to the employer on the employee’s disability discrimination claim. Although holding that the Appeal Tribunal decision was not conclusive on the issue of why the employee was terminated, the Appellate Division referred to the Appeals Tribunal as “an exemplar of a rational decision-maker akin to – but obviously not the equivalent of – a reasonable juror” and thus there was a triable question of fact regarding the employer’s motive. The ruling thus raises some concern for employers that opt to challenge unemployment benefits determinations, as an unsuccessful challenge could now potentially impact a subsequent civil action by the employee.

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