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7 N.J.A.R. 206

Terminix International, Inc.; Clowes, Robert v
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Citation: 7 N.J.A.R. 206
Decision Date: 1984
Synopsis: Complainant contended that he had been unlawfully discriminated against by respondent on the basis of alcoholism which he argued was a handicap under New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A 10:5-4.1 and N.J.S.A 10:5-5(q). The administrative law judge assigned to the case determined that alcoholism was not a handicap under the statute since although the condition is recognized as a disease, it was not listed among the numerated physical disabilities in the statute. In addition, the judge found that even if alcoholism were to be considered a handicap, the complainant had failed to prove that his condition was of such a nature so as to prevent the normal exercise of any bodily or mental function and that respondent had proven that complainant had been terminated for legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons. Accordingly, the judge dismissed complainant's action. Upon review by the Division on Civil Rights, the director rejected the initial decision of the administrative law judge. The director observed that as remedial legislation, the Law Against Discrimination should be liberally construed and thus the protection given by the statute to the handicapped should be construed to protect anyone whose condition reasonably falls within the general definition of handicapped rather than to restrict coverage only to those enumerated conditions. Accordingly, the director concluded that consistent with State and federal programs, alcoholism was a medically recognized condition falling within the definition of handicap. The director went on to find that there was a residuum of compe- tent evidence that respondent was aware of complainant's handicap and that this handicap, rather than complainant's poor performance, was the basis for his dismissal. State of New Jersey 207 Accordingly, the director ordered respondent to cease and desist from its discriminatory acts and awarded complainant back pay and humiliation damages. Wendy R. Brown, Esq., for complainant (Margaret K. Brooks, Legal Action Center, attorney) James H. Stock, Jr., Esq., for respondent (Weintraub, Dellart, Robinson, Coggin & Trotter, attorneys)
Statute(s) Cited: 10:5-2.1 10:5-5(a) 10:5-5(g) 
Citation Tracker rejected-Div. on Civil Rights; reversed -App. Div., A-3886-84, 5/8/86 (unreported); affirmed -109 N.J. 575 (1988) [Updated through 1991]