Quinlan revisited: employees who steal personnel records may not necessarily be fired, but at least they may be prosecuted
Keith J. Rosenblatt and David K. Broderick of Littler Mendelson write:
Five years ago, in Quinlan v. Curtiss-Wright Corporation, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that a trusted employee’s act of stealing and using her employer’s confidential personnel documents in furtherance of her discrimination lawsuit constituted protected activity under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”).1 On June 23, 2015, the court revisited this highly controversial decision in State v. Saavedra, stating, to the surprise of many, that Quinlan “did not endorse self-help as an alternative to the legal process in employment discrimination litigation.” Instead, the court held that Quinlan did not require the dismissal of the indictment of a Board of Education employee who unlawfully took confidential student documents to support her LAD suit against her employer and she could still be criminally prosecuted for her actions. The court held, however, that Quinlan could be a basis for a justification defense against such prosecution.
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