Henry v. New Jersey Dep’t of Human Servs., 2010 WL 5018534 (N.J. Sup. Ct., December 2, 2010) – In another statute of limitations case, the plaintiff, an African-American, was hired as an entry-level nurse in 2004 after obtaining her master’s degree. Sometime later that year she developed initial concerns about potential racial discrimination, but she had no supporting evidence. When the plaintiff inquired about her classification, she was advised that she had not yet spent sufficient time in her position to be advanced. A few months later, after learning that non-African-American nurses with similar educational credentials were placed in higher level positions, the plaintiff wrote a letter requesting that she be advanced in accordance with her qualifications. The Human Resources Director thereafter told her that she would have been reclassified but for the letter she wrote. In 2006, the plaintiff obtained additional facts supporting her suspicion of racial discrimination, including information regarding Caucasian nurses with equivalent education who were hired at higher classifications, and prior claims of race discrimination. She filed suit in 2007.
Analyzing whether the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the two-year statute of limitations for NJLAD claims, the New Jersey Supreme Court concluded that the plaintiff was entitled to a hearing to determine when she reasonably should have discovered that she had a cause of action. The court noted that the plaintiff may have been misled into not pursuing her suspicions about discrimination by the varying explanations given to her, and that if she was, a tolling of the statute of limitations may be required.