The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination: What Employees Need to Know
Everyone deserves to feel safe and protected from discrimination in the workplace.
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, NJLAD, provides individuals with strong protections against discrimination.
To the average person, it may not be clear whether the NJLAD protections apply in their situation.
It's essential to speak with a qualified employment attorney to discuss your case's facts and how to proceed with a claim.
What is the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination?
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination or (NJLAD) prohibits discrimination and harassment based on actual or perceived race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, and other protected characteristics.
The law applies in employment, housing, and places open to the public. The NJLAD protects not only employees but also prospective employees.
Examples of discrimination include adverse hiring practices, denial of a deserved promotion, and disparate treatment.
How Can I Prove Discrimination in New Jersey?
Proving discrimination requires proof that your employer treated you differently than others and that you are part of a protected group.
NJ discrimination laws are essential to provide supporting evidence to succeed on your claim. Supporting evidence of discrimination may be shown through two forms of evidence.
Direct evidence typically may be shown by your employer directly stating that they took adverse action against you due to your status in a protected class.
Direct evidence includes conversations or written documentation. Direct evidence is rarely available, as employers understand the risks associated with discriminatory conduct and possible lawsuits.
One may prove circumstantial evidence of discrimination by presenting facts and circumstances creating an implication of discrimination. In these circumstances, the adverse action taken exemplifies a pretext for discrimination.
For example, suppose you are a woman and your employer eliminated your position only to fill it shortly after that with a man. In that case, you may argue discrimination based on your sex.
Discrimination in the workplace often fails to present clearly. It’s important to document all instances of discrimination by your employer. Gathering supportive evidence of your claim helps your employment law attorney build a strong case against your employer.
How Do I File a Discrimination Claim?
When filing a discrimination claim, it's important to follow the proper processes and procedures to ensure procedural errors do not result in the dismissal of your claim.
Completing your claim filing correctly and promptly gets you closer to the recovery of just compensation for the damages suffered.
You may pursue a lawsuit under NJ discrimination laws.
In state court, there are no caps provided on punitive damage recovery or compensatory damages. It's essential to seek representation from a qualified employment attorney to review your discrimination claim.
The New Jersey law against discrimination is complex and requires meeting multiple deadlines and presenting strong evidence for your claim's success.
A New Jersey discrimination attorney assists clients in all stages of complex discrimination lawsuits to ensure their claims are heard and increase the chances of success for valid claims.
What Can I Recover under the NJLAD?
The NJLAD provides for recovery of damages in situations where you succeed against another for discrimination.
For example, if you succeed in a lawsuit against your employer for discrimination, NJ discrimination laws permit recovery of the following.
- Back pay and benefits, including wages from the time loss of income began to accrue through the date of trial;
- Front pay and benefits, which measure the ongoing harm caused by the wrongful termination under NJLAD from the date of trial onward;
- Emotional distress, which may be shown through evidence of any emotional distress proximately caused by your employer's adverse action against you;
- Punitive damages, which serve to punish the defendant in situations where the defendant's conduct was especially egregious; and
- Attorney fees expended to support your discrimination claim under the New Jersey law against discrimination.
Recovery in an NJLAD case against your employer presents complexity with high stakes. It's essential to speak to an employment law attorney experienced in the NJ law against discrimination for assistance with your claim.
October 2021 Update - NJ 6821
On October 5, 2021, Governor Murphy signed NJ A681 into law, expanding the scope of the State’s preeminent discrimination statute the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination as it relates to age discrimination.
In recognition of the fact that people are tending to work longer, the NJLAD was amended in several key aspects that strengthens protections for workers within New Jersey:
- The amendment eliminated a provision of the LAD which allowed employers to not hire or promote workers who were 70 years old or older.
- The amendment adopted a higher standard for a government employer in setting mandatory retirement ages.
- The amendment eliminated a part of the LAD which permitted institutions of higher education to require tenured employees to retire at the age of 70.
- The amendment expanded the legal remedies allowed for an employee required to retire due to age to allow for all remedies under the LAD, including emotional distress and punitive damages, rather than just the limited remedy of reinstatement of employment with backpay.
Obviously, these new provisions are a major win for older employees within New Jersey who unfortunately are frequent targets of age discrimination within the workplace.
Hopefully, these changes to the law will deter such discrimination going forward and be there to vindicate those individuals who experience any such conduct going forward.
For the State of New Jersey’s formal announcement, see: https://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562021/20211005a.shtml
The employment lawyers at O'Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble assist clients in pursuing claims under the NJ law against discrimination. NJLAD protects individuals from discriminatory conduct in the workplace. No one should have to endure adverse treatment for who they are.
Our attorneys understand complex New Jersey law against discrimination and give clients the voice they deserve. We know how important it is for our clients to work in healthy work environments and enjoy protection from discriminatory conduct.