Pennsauken, NJ (Law Firm Newswire) September 21, 2018 – A longtime employee at a New Jersey apartment complex was terminated from his employment while he was recuperating from an injury he suffered at work.
According to Asbury Park Press, Joseph Lach, 60, was injured when after lifting a heavy sofa bed while cleaning out an apartment. When he informed his supervisor, Philip Celler, of the injury, he asked him if he needed to complete any forms in order to file for workers’ compensation. Celler replied in the negative, and instructed him to return to work. Lach never filed for workers’ compensation, and resumed working for 10 months, although he still experienced pain from the injury.
In January 2015, Lach had an MRI, which indicated he had a torn rotator cuff, for which he needed surgery. After his surgery on April 23, 2015, Lach took a leave of absence from work to recuperate. On May 7, Lach telephoned Celler to inform him his physician cleared him to return to work. Six days later, Lach received a letter of termination from his employer.
South Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys Petrillo & Goldberg say, “An employee who suffers an injury in the workplace should not be treated so disrespectfully by his employer.” “Someone who is injured at work has a right to file a workers’ compensation claim, regardless of who was at fault.”
Along with the letter, Lach also received a separation agreement in which he was offered one week’s severance pay in return for relinquishing his right to file a lawsuit. Lach filed suit against Briar Hill at Manchester and Celler, who is part owner and part managing partner of Briar Hill. A jury in Ocean County found Celler and the Briar Hill guilty of acting in violation of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. The jury unanimously rendered an award of $725,016 in damages to Lach.
The damages award includes $125,000 in compensation to Lach for economic damages, and another $100,000 in compensation for emotional distress. The jury awarded punitive damages against Briar Hill in the amount of $500,000, and against Celler in the amount of $16, which represented $1 for every year Lach had worked for Mr. Celler.
Petrillo & Goldberg Law
6951 North Park Drive
Pennsauken, NJ 08109
19 South 21st Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
70 South Broad Street
Woodbury, NJ 08096
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