By Brigette N. Eagan and Seth Rudnitsky, Law Clerk
On June 23, 2015, the Supreme Court of New Jersey affirmed a criminal indictment for theft against an employee who took documents belonging to her employer. The documents were to be used by the employee to support claims of discrimination and retaliation in a civil
lawsuit against that employer. The Court found:
In the setting of civil litigation, New Jersey’s anti-discrimination policy is promoted by the assertion of statutory and common law anti-discrimination claims, by the vigorous pursuit of relevant information in discovery, and by the presentation of evidence at trial. To date, the Legislature has not determined that in order to effect the State’s anti-discrimination policy, employment discrimination litigants should be immunized from prosecution for surreptitiously taking employer documents to support their claims. Such litigants remain subject to our criminal laws.
Take away: If an employee copies or takes documents from an employer for use in an employment lawsuit, the employee is not immune from criminal prosecution. State v. Saavedra, 2015 N.J. LEXIS 641 (N.J. June 23, 2015).