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Case Name Rudolph v. Adamar of New Jersey EE-NJ-0123
Docket / Court 1:00-CV-00190 ( D.N.J. )
State/Territory New Jersey
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Case Summary
On January 12, 2000, a white, male former employee filed a complaint against Adamar of New Jersey, a company that does business as Tropicana Casino and Resort. The plaintiff alleged that by implementing an Equal Employment and Business Opportunity Plan, Tropicana had discriminated against him and ... read more >
On January 12, 2000, a white, male former employee filed a complaint against Adamar of New Jersey, a company that does business as Tropicana Casino and Resort. The plaintiff alleged that by implementing an Equal Employment and Business Opportunity Plan, Tropicana had discriminated against him and all similarly situated individuals on the basis of race and sex in violation of 42 USC § 1981 and state anti-discrimination law. The plaintiff also alleged an individual claim of discrimination on the basis of age, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and state law. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey and the case was assigned to Judge Stephen M. Orlofsky.

Tropicana filed a Third-Party Complaint against the State of New Jersey, as well as the Governor and Attorney General of New Jersey in their official capacities (State Defendants). Tropicana also named as a Third-Party Defendant the Chairperson of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in his official capacity. The Commission, created pursuant to the New Jersey Casino Control Act, required each casino licensee to adopt an approved affirmative action plan. Tropicana alleged that to the extent any portion of its plan was unlawful, it was solely because of it compliance with the Commission’s requirements and regulations. As a result, Tropicana alleged that the State Commission violated the United States Constitution, the New Jersey Constitution, and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and § 1983, Tropicana sought declaratory and injunctive relief, reimbursement of reasonable attorneys' fees, and reimbursement for all equitable relief, including damages and costs, obtained against Tropicana by the plaintiff or the plaintiff class. In response, the former-employee plaintiff filed claims against the Third-Party Defendants, alleging that Tropicana's state-mandated equal opportunity regulations caused the violations of his rights. The plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and costs and fees.

The State Defendants moved to dismiss all claims against them, except those against the Governor and the Attorney General, that sought prospective injunctive relief under federal law. The Commissioner also moved to dismiss all claims brought against him in his official capacity on the ground that the Commission was an arm of the State of New Jersey and therefore entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity.

On July 31, 2000, Judge Orlofsky granted in part the State Defendants’ motion to dismiss. First, the court recognized the State Defendants’ unopposed motion to dismiss all claims against the State of New Jersey on the grounds of Eleventh Amendment immunity, which bars suits against any state in federal court by the state’s own citizens. Since Eleventh Amendment immunity also applies to state officials who are sued in their official capacities for damages, the court also granted the State Defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s and Tropicana’s state law claims for damages. Finally, the judge granted the Commissioner's motion to dismiss Tropicana's and the plaintiff's claims for damages against him, in his official capacity after concluding that the Commission was an "alter ego" of the State of New Jersey and therefore entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit in federal court. The claims for prospective and injunctive relief under federal law survived because Eleventh Amendment immunity did not apply and the court had jurisdiction to review the claims. The plaintiff was subsequently allowed to file an amended complaint to properly state a claim requesting prospective, injunctive relief under federal law. 153 F.Supp.2d 528.

On October 10, 2001, the Court found that the provisions and regulations of equal opportunity plan violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court declared these provisions invalid, and issued an order permanently enjoining the State of New Jersey and its Commission from enforcing them or any portion of any Equal Employment and Business Opportunity Plan based on them. All the claims of the plaintiff and Tropicana against the Third-Party Defendants were dismissed without prejudice. The plaintiff and Tropicana were awarded reasonable attorneys' fees and costs, subject to a future application to the Court. 2001 WL 1335031.

By August 2002, the parties stipulated to a partial settlement for declaratory and injunctive relief for a class. The court granted conditional class certification and preliminary approval for the purposes of the settlement. The parties stipulated to a dismissal of claims for attorneys’ fees and costs against the Third-Party Defendants with prejudice. On February 18, 2003, the court entered a final order and judgment: it approved the partial settlement of the reverse discrimination class action lawsuit against Tropicana and dismissed all claims for declaratory and injunctive relief. The final judgment was amended in an order issued on June 2, 2003, by Judge Robert B. Kugler, to whom the case had been reassigned.

In April 2004, the plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment, which was denied, and Tropicana filed a cross motion for summary judgment, which was granted in part and denied in part.

Tropicana’s motion for summary judgment was granted as to the race discrimination claims because the plaintiff did not establish the "state action" necessary to sustain his claims. Action taken by private entities with the mere approval or acquiescence of the State was not state action. Although Tropicana was required by state law to set goals for female and minority employment, the plaintiff was not able to produce any evidence that the state's involvement in Tropicana’s effort to meet its employment goals (assuming the plaintiff’s termination was indeed such an effort), went beyond “mere approval or acquiescence.” Therefore, the plaintiff did not establish state action to survive the summary judgment motion.

As to the Title VII claims, the court evaluated the evidence produced by Tropicana, including evidence showing that senior management reached a consensus to terminate the plaintiff after a series of complaints from interviews with employees, as well as performance evaluations, reviews, and a ranking chart. This demonstrated that the plaintiff was among the worst-performing of the employees. Based on this evaluation, the court found that Tropicana met its burden of articulating a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for terminating the plaintiff’s employment.

However, the court found that the plaintiff presented evidence sufficient to survive Tropicana's motion for summary judgment on his age discrimination claims for four reasons. Among other evidence, Tropicana management had not explained the plaintiff’s termination in detail, so the court determined that a reasonable jury might interpret this as evidence of pretext. The court found that the plaintiff produced evidence sufficient to withstand Tropicana's motion for summary judgment on his age discrimination claims.

A jury trial was set for April 18, 2005, but on April 5, the court issued an order dismissing the case without costs and without prejudice. On May 3, the case was dismissed with prejudice, closing the case. Presumably, the parties settled out of court, but this information was not publicly available at the time of this writing.

Esther Vinarov - 02/24/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Discrimination-area
Hiring
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Promotion
Seniority
Discrimination-basis
Age discrimination
Gender identity
Sex discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
White
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
42 U.S.C. § 1983
State Anti-Discrimination Law
State law
Defendant(s) ADAMAR OF NEW JERSEY, INC. TROPICANA CASINO AND RESORT
Attorney General
Chairperson
Governor
State of New Jersey
Plaintiff Description White, male former employee of Tropicana Casino and Resort
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Private Settlement Agreement
Filing Year 2000
Case Closing Year 2005
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing EE-NJ-0124 : Osgood v. Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. (D.N.J.)
Docket(s)
1:00−cv−00190 (D.N.J.)
EE-NJ-0123-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/03/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion and Order Granting granting motion to dismiss all claims against the State, Governor and Attorney General. (153 F.Supp.2d 528) (D.N.J.)
EE-NJ-0123-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/31/2001
Source: Google Scholar
Stipulation and Order (2001 WL 1335031)
EE-NJ-0123-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/10/2001
Source: Westlaw
Opinion on Motion for Summary Judgment and Cross Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 83] (D.N.J.)
EE-NJ-0123-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/22/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Kugler, Robert B. (D.N.J.) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0123-0002 | EE-NJ-0123-9000
Orlofsky, Stephen Murray (D.N.J.) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0123-0001 | EE-NJ-0123-0003
Rosen, Joel B. (D.N.J.) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0123-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Console, Stephen G. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0123-0001 | EE-NJ-0123-9000
Haddad, Yvonne R. (New Jersey) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0123-9000
Mager, Carol A. (New Jersey) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0123-0001
Simon, Deborah Hart (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0123-0001 | EE-NJ-0123-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cooney, Lisa Ann (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0123-9000
Farmer, John J. Jr. (New Jersey) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0123-0001
Holmes, Mark Turner (New Jersey) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0123-0001 | EE-NJ-0123-9000
Missimer, David C. (New Jersey) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0123-0001 | EE-NJ-0123-9000
Moffa, Luis R. Jr. (New Jersey) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0123-0001 | EE-NJ-0123-9000
Tanenbaum, Jerry L. (New Jersey) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0123-0001
Zimmerman, George A. (Texas) show/hide docs
EE-NJ-0123-0001

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