TINIO v. SAINT JOSEPH REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER et al
LETTER OPINION. Signed by Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson on 7/7/14. (jd, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Bldg.
& U.S. Courthouse
50 Walnut Street
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Joseph A. Dickson
United States Magisttate Judge
July 7, 2014
All counsel o(record via ECF
Tinio v. St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center (13-829-JLL-JAD)
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendant's application to compel Plaintiff's authorization fort
release ofher employment records is denied.
Hon. Esther Salas, U.S.D.J.
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