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8 N.J.A.R. 89

Scaravelloni, Laurie v. Butterfield, Enterprises, Inc
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Citation: 8 N.J.A.R. 89
Decision Date: 1984
Synopsis: Petitioner filed a complaint with the Division on Civil Rights alleg- ing that she had been denied admission to respondent's disco based upon her physical handicap in violation of N.J.S.A. 10:5-4.1 and 10:5-12(/3. After a finding of probable cause by the Division, the matter was transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law as a contested case. The administrative law judge assigned to the case found that peti- tioner was handicapped within the meaning of N.J.S.A. 10:5-4.1 since at the time of the incident, she had been using crutches as a result of a hip operation. The judge found that petitioner had been denied entry into respondent's establishment by one of his employees because of the use of crutches and that respondent's disco was a public ac- comodation within N.J.S.A. 10:5-12(f). The judge noted that petitioner had met the requirements of estab- lishing a primafacie case in that she had shown: (1) she was a member of a protected class, (2) had attempted to gain access to a facility set forth in N.J.S.A. 10:5-12(/3 and (3) that she had been denied admission to that facility because of a physical handicap. The judge noted that the burden then shifted to respondent to demonstrate a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for its action. In this case, the judge dis- missed the respondent's reason for denying access as pretextual. Based upon these findings, the judge concluded that respondent had engaged in discriminatory action and had embarrassed and humiliated petitioner. Accordingly, the judge ordered respondent to pay $5,000 in damages for humiliation, pain and suffering. After a review of this initial decision by the Director of the Division on Civil Rights, the Director adopted the decision as her own. While concuring that the administrative law judge had appropriately assessed compensatory damages, the Director pointed out that the judge had incorrectly labeled this award as a 'fine.' Susan L. Reisner, Deputy Attorney General, for petitioner (Irwin I. Kimmelman, Attorney General of New Jersey, attorney) Frank Passarella, Esq., for respondent (Surgent & Passarella, at- torneys) Initial Decision