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A federal judge on Wednesday struck down affirmative action regulations that governed virtually every aspect of hiring in New Jersey’s casinos, finding that they violate the 14th Amendment rights of white and male workers. In a three-page order in Rudolph v. Tropicana Casino and Resort v. State of New Jersey, Judge Stephen M. Orlofsky of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey declared that the affirmative action regulations of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission are unconstitutional. Orlofsky permanently enjoined the CCC from enforcing the regulations as well as any portion of its “Equal Employment Business Opportunity Plan” that is substantially based on the regulations. The order also requires the CCC to formally repeal the regulations and to inform all casino licensees that they have now been declared invalid. The ruling is a victory for attorneys Stephen G. Console and Carol A. Mager, who filed the suit on behalf of a class of white and/or male casino workers who say they have been passed over for promotions, demoted or transferred as a result of illegal preferences for minority and female workers. Console previously won a ruling on behalf of an individual worker at Resorts International’s casino who was passed over for a promotion, but the regulations remained in place because the court held that the worker did not have standing to challenge the state regulations. In the Rudolph case, both Tropicana and the plaintiffs sought to add the state of New Jersey and the CCC as defendants. In an interview Wednesday, Console said the regulations that were struck down affected “almost every facet of personnel decisionmaking” at the casinos. One regulation established “goals” for minority and female employees in nine different job categories. For example, casinos were required to aim for 25 percent minorities and 46 percent females among their officers and managers. Another regulation required the casinos to file quarterly reports outlining their recent affirmative action efforts and to justify any personnel decision in which a minority or female was passed over for a job in which the casino had not yet met its “goal” for that category. Yet another regulation required the casinos to develop strategic plans for training and recruiting workers to meet the stated goals. Console said that while the regulations referred to the percentages as “goals,” he argued that in practice, they functioned as “quotas.” Tropicana’s lawyers, Louis Moffa and Jerry Tannenbaum of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, argued that if the casino faced any monetary damages, it should be reimbursed by the state because it was only following the regulations. But Orlofsky, in a prior opinion, rejected that argument. Mager said Wednesday that Orlofsky’s injunction will prevent any future enforcement of the affirmative action regulations, but that individual workers who claim they were harmed by them in the past must pursue their claims for damages individually. Orlofsky’s order makes clear that both the plaintiffs and Tropicana are “prevailing parties” and are entitled to attorneys’ fees because both had challenged the constitutionality of the regulations.

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