New Jersey Supreme Court Expands Usage of Discovery Rule

Though the decision has received a great deal of attention because of the controversy, as played out in the separate opinions of Chief Justice Rabner and Associate Justices Rivera-Soto and Hoens, over whether the temporary appointment to the New Jersey Supreme Court of Judge Stern of the Appellate Division is constitutional, the recently decided case of Henry v. New Jersey Department of Human Services, is of special interest to employers, as it appears to expand the circumstances under which a plaintiff can invoke the equitable device known as the “discovery rule” to toll the 2-year statute of limitations applicable to claims under the Law Against Discrimination (LAD) In Henry, the Court, by a vote of 5-1 with one abstention, affirmed the Appellate Division’s holding dismissing plaintiff’s retaliation claim but reversed the Appellate Division’s dismissal of plaintiff’s discrimination claim. The Court remanded the discrimination claim for the trial court to conduct a hearing to ascertain whether plaintiff could not have reasonably discovered she had claim within 2 years of the accrual of her cause of action.