Filing 26

LETTER OPINION. Signed by Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson on 7/7/14. (jd, )

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Bldg. & U.S. Courthouse 50 Walnut Street Newark, New Jersey 07102 (973-645-2580) Chambers of Joseph A. Dickson United States Magisttate Judge July 7, 2014 LETTER OPINION All counsel o(record via ECF Re: Tinio v. St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center (13-829-JLL-JAD) Dear Counsel: This letter opinion concerns the parties' dispute regarding whether Defendant should be permitted to obtain employment records from Plaintiffs current employer. On April 7, 2014, Deft dant filed its letter seeking the Court to order Plaintiff to execute authorizations for her employment re (ECF no. 21 ). The Court had a telephone conference with the parties on April 10, 2014. The Cou has reviewed the letter briefs filed by the parties on this issue, and considered the arguments the partie raised during the Court's April 10 telephone conference. For the following reasons, the Court den s Defendant's request. In this employment discrimination case, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant retailiated against er by terminating her eemployment after she appeared as a witness in another employee's EEOC hearin and corroborated the allegations of race discrimination. See Complaint (ECF no. 1). Plaintiff alleges violation of three counts: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, retailiation in violation of the New J Law Against Discrimination, and violation of the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection ct ("CEPA"). 1 Defendant wants Plaintiff to sign authorizations to release her employment records from h current and former employers. Defendant argues that the records of Bellevue Hospital are relevant because Plaintiff was employed at Bellevue while she was working for Defendant. Defendant ar that Plaintiff may have been employed or terminated under unpleasant circumstances with any ofh r former employers, and that Plaintiff may have brought similar claims of discrimination or retaliati against such employers. Defendant further argues that ifPlaintiffis a whistleblower or chronic complainer, she may not be entitled to protection under CEPA. Plaintiff fears interference with he current employment at Bellevue. Plaintiff also claims she has had only two employers since 2003, he Defendant and Bellevue Hospital, and that records from employers other than Bellevue Hospital w uld be over 10 years old. District courts have "broad discretion to tailor discovery narrowly to meet the needs of eac case." Estate of Chance ex rei. Humphreys v. First Correctional Medical, Inc., 329 F. App'x. 340, 343 (3d Cir. 2009) (internal citations omitted). "Although the scope of discovery under the Federal Ru unquestionably broad, this right is not unlimited and may be circumscribed." Bayer AG v. Betach Inc., 173 F.3d 188, 191 (3d Cir. 1999). Pursuant to Rule 26(b)(2)(C)(3), "the court must limit the ... extent of discovery otherwise allowed by these rules .. .if it determines that ... the burden [] of e proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C)(3). Courts consider importance of the discovery in resolving the issues" at stake in the case in determining whether th burden of the discovery outweighs its likely benefit. 1 !d. For the following reasons, pursuant to Rule 26 ofthe Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the ourt will limit Defendant's discovery and preclude discovery of these employment records. The Court that records of employers dating back to more than 10 years ago are too remote and irrelevant to t 1 Courts also consider "the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, [and] the importance of the i stake in the action." Id. 2 es at issues at stake in this case. Whether Plaintiff is a whistleblower or chronic complainer is not a determinative factor in this case; it may go to Defendant's arguments regarding credibility. In any vent, this Court finds in the context of this case that the possibility of complaining 10 years ago is not sufficiently probative to warrant the effort. As for Plaintiff's employment records from Bellevue, the Court finds that although such re rds may have some relevance to this case, the burden of producing such records outweighs the likely benefit. Because Plaintiff currently works at Bellevue, Plaintiff has a legitimate fear regarding interference with her current employment. Courts in such cases have precluded production of curr t employment records because "individuals have a legitimate privacy interest in information regardi g [their] subsequent employment." EEOC v. Princeton, no. 10-4126 (PGS), 2012 WL 1623870, at* 4 (D.N.J. May 9, 2012) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Furthermore, courts have recogn ed that subpoenas of current employers should be used only as a last resort "because of the direct neg effect that disclosures of disputes with past employers can have on present employment." Id. at* Indeed, courts have noted that a plaintiff may have a legitimate concern that a subpoena sent to a c rrent employer may result in difficulties in a new job. Id. In such circumstances, courts may require defendant to "present independent evidence that provides a reasonable basis for it to believe that [ plaintiff] has filed complaints, grievances, lawsuits, or charges" relating to other employers. Id. at 22. In this case, the Court finds that Plaintiffhas a legitimate fear regarding the impact of the potential interference with her current employment. Defendant has not provided any information t demonstrate that the benefit of obtaining such records outweighs the burden of the potential negati e effect on Plaintiff's present employment. Furthermore, Defendant does not provide any evidence demonstrating that Plaintiff may have been a chronic complainer during her employment at Belle e or anywhere else. Although Defendant argues that the records can assist in calculating lost wages, PI intiff has provided all her earning information from Bellevue, including her tax returns. 3 For the foregoing reasons, Defendant's application to compel Plaintiff's authorization fort release ofher employment records is denied. SO ORDERED. cc: Hon. Esther Salas, U.S.D.J. 4

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