Heitzman v. Monmouth County, et al.

Plaintiff sued, alleging a violation of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) in that he was subjected to a hostile working environment and ultimately demoted because of his sensitivity to secondhand smoke, which he contends is a “handicap” within the intent of the LAD.  The trial court concluded that sensitivity to secondhand smoke does not constitute a handicap under the LAD and that Heitzman had not presented satisfactory evidence that he is sensitive to cigarette smoke.  The Plaintiff had presented only one doctor’s letter, dated more than three years after he had been transferred out of his position, which stated that Heitzman is “quite sensitive to smoke.”  Further, the doctor’s conclusions rested entirely on the patient’s subjective complaints; no tests or examinations showing the existence of a pulmonary condition or allergy were performed.  The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, affirmed the summary judgment dismissing the Plaintiff’s complaint, concluding that “an alleged hypersensitivity to second-hand smoke, which is not related to any recognized medical condition, does not constitute a handicap within the intent of the LAD.”  See New Jersey Law Journal, May 17, 1999, 71, 75-76.

321 N.J. Super. 133, 728 A.2d 297, 9 A.D. Cases 530 (1999).