Myron Cowher, a German-Irish Lutheran, a former truck driver for Carson & Roberts Site Construction & Engineering in Lafayette, New Jersey, can now sue them, the appeals court ruled earlier this week.
Cowher, despite not being Jewish, was harassed for over a year for being Jewish at his former worksite, reports NJ.com. His supervisors would make statements like, "Only a Jew would argue over his hours," along with other far more offensive jokes. Cowher eventually caught them on tape.
The problem was, New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination protects someone from being discriminated on based on gender, race, religion, sexual preference, age, etc. What happens then, when the bully is wrong and harasses the victim for being something that they are not?
The lower court thought that since Cowher was not a member of the protected class, he shouldn't be allowed to sue for the harassment of that class.
However, the appeals court reversed their decision and is allowing the suit, stating, that the "proper question" is what effect the supervisors' allegedly derogatory comments would have on "a reasonable Jew," rather than on a person of Cowher's actual background.
The ruling could conceivably expand the field of potential litigants far beyond what was possible before. Now, if the bully is wrong as to their victim's race, gender, etc., they can still be sued.
Finally, it is important to know that Myron Cowher has not yet won the suit. He has merely won the right to bring the suit. He could still lose on the merits of the case when it is actually tried.
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