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Former New Jersey secretary chooses to settle case out of court

The former secretary of a New Jersey school recently decided to bring her 2011 employment lawsuit to a close by settling her claims with the Long Branch school district. The basis of the lawsuit was an allegation that the superintendent at the time had sexually harassed the woman.

Although the woman will be paid $600,000 under the terms of the settlement, the former superintendent still maintains that he did not commit the acts that were alleged. It was the current superintendent that agreed to the settlement offer determined by the school board in cooperation with a representative for the school district’s insurance company.

Not every employment lawsuit ends with a jury verdict. Many cases involving sexual harassment may settle out of court. Why would a victim choose to settle instead of going to trial? In this case, an arbitrator had made a recommendation that the woman’s claims were worth around $4.5 million. Why then would she settle for less than that amount?

There are a lot of reasons why a harassment victim may opt for a settlement -- even one that is lower than a jury could have the authority to award. These might include a desire to keep the details of a situation private, avoid the risk that can come with relying on a favorable jury verdict, retain negotiating power or simply for a quick and sure resolution.

Each workplace harassment case is as unique as the client himself or herself, which is why consulting a New Jersey employment attorney immediately is such a prudent decision. Not only will the attorney be able to advise the victim on their legal options, but can also help ensure that the employee’s rights are protected no matter what choice is made.

Source: Asbury Park Press, “Long Branch settles ‘sex slave’ suit,” Carol Gorga Williams, Jan. 26, 2014

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