Statute of Limitations Waiver in Employment Application Enforceable Against ESL Immigrant, New Jersey Appellate Division Holds

On June 19, 2014, the New Jersey Appellate Division continued recent willingness of New Jersey courts to enforce employment applications that shorten the statute of limitations for employment-related claims, this time enforcing such an agreement against an immigrant from Argentina with only limited ability to read or speak English. In Rodriguez v. Raymours Furniture Company, A-4329-12T3 (App. Div. June 19, 2014), the plaintiff filed suit alleging disability discrimination and workers’ compensation retaliation nine months after the termination of his employment. While those claims ordinarily would have a two-year statute of limitations, his employment application with the defendant contained a provision requiring him to file any claim or lawsuit relating to his employment within six months of the underlying wrongful act, and waiving any statute of limitations to the contrary. Concluding that the six-month statute of limitations waiver provision was not unconscionable, the Appellate Division “decline[d] plaintiff’s invitation to impose a judicial ban on the shortening of limitation periods for claims by workers against their employers.” The court also noted that while the plaintiff was not a native English-speaker, he had lived in the United States for 20 years, and had completed the form at home with a friend who spoke fluent English and who had translated the relevant portions into Spanish for him. Reaffirming that parties are charged with knowledge of the law and with knowledge of contracts into which they have entered, the Appellate Division dismissed the plaintiff’s claims as time-barred.  

Note: This article was also published in the July 17, 2014 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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