Good Faith Belief of Discrimination Must Exist to Maintain LAD Retaliation Claim

On February 21, 2007, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a significant decision regarding claims of retaliation under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("LAD"). In Carmona v. Resorts International Hotel, Inc., the Court held that, in order for an employee to maintain a claim of retaliation under the LAD, he or she must prove that he or she had a "reasonable and good faith belief" that the alleged underlying discrimination occurred. In other words, an employee claiming that he or she was retaliated against for reporting alleged discrimination must now prove that the original complaint of discrimination was made "reasonably and in good faith" and was not, on the other hand, a bare or baseless allegation. Notwithstanding this welcome decision, we recommend that employers always work under the assumption that an employee's internal complaint of discrimination was made in good faith. In the event that an investigation reveals strong evidence to the contrary, the Carmona decision would support disciplinary action against the employee for filing a frivolous claim and a defense in any subsequent litigation predicated on that complaint.