Rutgers professor sues University over age discrimination

Dr. Norman Ende, research professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, is suing the University.
Photo by Photo by Rutgers.edu | The Daily TargumDr. Norman Ende, research professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, is suing the University.

Dr. Norman Ende, a research professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Rutgers University New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) in Newark, is suing the University over being the victim of alleged age discrimination, according to an article on My Central Jersey.

Ende filed the lawsuit against the University, NJMS and its dean, Robert L. Johnson, on Feb. 7 in Superior Court of New Jersey in Morris County, according court documents. He is claiming that following a collapse due to dehydration on Jan. 6, a mandatory medical leave was unreasonably enforced.

Rutgers countered the suit on Feb. 11 and said the collapse was just one of several incidents, according to the article. They said it has caused concern about Ende’s ability to perform essential tasks in his position.

The University called for the case to be moved to federal court, according to the article.

In a Feb. 4 letter to Ende, he was asked by Rutgers to see an independent practitioner for a fitness-for-duty evaluation following another incident in February, according to the article. Failing to report for this evaluation could result in Ende being terminated from his position.

“Housekeeping has reported several incidents when you were unable to appropriately utilize the lavatory, leaving it significantly soiled and resulting in hazardous conditions,” Johnson said in the letter, according to the article. “By way of further example … you sustained a fall in the lavatory in July of 2019.”

Ende disputed these claims, according to the article.

“I dispute the following claims in the letter: that I actually collapsed (I was caught), that I lack focus or understanding (my hearing aids sometimes are affected at the medical school),” Ende said, according to the article. “I also dispute that there have been multiple soiling incidents in the handicap bathroom. To the contrary, the lock to the handicap bathroom is difficult, and I have asked for help with it on multiple occasions.”

Ende’s attorney, Donald S. Dinsmore, did not reply to a request for a comment, according to the article.

The lawsuit also said the University was unable to produce documents to support the incidents, according to the article.

Two physicians also supported Ende’s collapse in that it was caused by “orthostatic hypotension due to dehydration,” according to the article.

“With a modification of my medication, I should be able to return to work,” Ende said, according to the article.

The suit also states that the University’s policy, which outlines essential job functions of a professor, does not include any physical requirements, according to the article.



Editor's Note: A previous version of this article stated that the case was filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey in New Brunswick.