Employment discrimination is unfortunately a common problem in workplaces throughout New Jersey. Discrimination against certain protected classifications of people in the workplace can take the form of termination, harassment, retaliation, hostile work environments, and more. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there were 1,480 total Charges of Discrimination filed against employers in New Jersey in 2019. Of these charges, 32.2% were based on race, 29.5% were based on sex, and 14.3% were based on national origin. Fortunately, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), along with various federal statutes enforced by the EEOC, provides employees with strong legal protection against employment discrimination.
From our offices in Red Bank, NJ, and Marlton, NJ, McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. represents both employees and employers throughout the state in a wide range of employment discrimination matters. Our lawyers are known for their ability to produce results and provide effective advocacy. Having handled cases for both employers and employees, we understand the specific tactical and strategic issues involved on both sides of an employment discrimination case. With our depth and breadth of experience, we can anticipate likely challenges and work tirelessly to overcome them.
Who is Protected by New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination?
The NJLAD “makes it unlawful to subject people to discrimination or harassment” based on a specific list of classifications. Under New Jersey law, the following types of discrimination in the workplace are prohibited:
- Affectional or Sexual Orientation Discrimination
- Age Discrimination
- AIDS or HIV Status Discrimination
- Atypical Hereditary Cellular or Blood trait, or Genetic Information Discrimination
- Breastfeeding / Pumping in the Workplace Discrimination
- Chronic Illness Workplace Discrimination
- Disability Discrimination including Mental, Physical, or Perceived Disability
- Domestic Partnership or Civil Union Status Discrimination
- Gender Discrimination
- Gender Identity Discrimination or Gender Expression Discrimination
- Genetic Discrimination
- Hairstyle Discrimination
- Liability for Military Service Discrimination
- LGBTQ Discrimination / Sexual Orientation Discrimination including:
- Marital Status Discrimination
- Maternity Leave Discrimination
- Medical Marijuana Discrimination
- National Origin Discrimination or Ancestry Discrimination
- New Jersey Paid Sick Leave
- Pregnancy Discrimination
- Racial Discrimination including Color Discrimination
- Religious Discrimination
- Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
- Transgender Discrimination
In particular, employers are increasingly held accountable for discrimination against pregnant women or employees dealing with medical situations. According to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which applies only to certain types of businesses, pregnant women’s jobs are required to be temporarily reserved during their maternity leave. Also, jobs are to be temporarily reserved for employees suffering from a medical condition or who have to take a leave to deal with specified family matters. Where applicable, the failure of a company to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a violation of employee rights. McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. is poised to assess your particular matter, to advise you on the applicable employment discrimination statutes, and to advocate tenaciously on your behalf.
What Qualifies as Employment Discrimination in NJ?
Discrimination in the workplace can cover a broad spectrum of activity specifically targeting members of the protected classes, including:
- Termination or Demotion
- Failure to Recruit or Hire
- Differential Treatment or Pay
- Withholding Training, Promotions or Career Advancement
- Being Subjected to Harassment or Increased Scrutiny
- The Existence of a Hostile Work Environment with Severe and Pervasive Harassment
- Terminating or Disciplining an Employee in Retaliation for Making a Complaint
How Do You Prove Employment Discrimination?
In order to prove that you have been discriminated against at work, you must be able to show evidence that you were treated differently to another employee with similar circumstances, and that this treatment happened because of your membership in a protected class. This can include:
- Direct Evidence, for example if your employer admits that you were not hired, passed over for a promotion, terminated, or otherwise treated differently because of your pregnancy, age, race, disability, or other protected classification.
- Circumstantial Evidence showing that your employer acted differently than usual or bypassed standard protocols because of your membership in a protected class, for example:
- Your boss fires you for an infraction that did not occur, does not make sense, or only resulted in a warning for other employees.
- You are fired or demoted under suspicious circumstances, for example right after you announce your pregnancy or right after you get injured.
- Hiring someone other than you who has the same qualifications.
- A history of other employees in protected classes being treated differently.
Employers facing accusations of discrimination must also work closely with lawyers who can develop the strongest possible defenses to these claims. Our firm represents a wide range of employers to prevent, investigate, and defend discrimination claims.
Where Do I File a Discrimination Complaint?
If you believe your employer has discriminated against you based on your race, age, pregnancy, disability, or other protected classification, you should contact an employment discrimination attorney first to discuss your rights and options.
After speaking with a lawyer, your next move will most likely be to file an internal complaint with your company’s human resources department or labor union. This gives your employer an opportunity to resolve the issue without having to go through the legal process. If you are not satisfied with your company’s response after going through the proper channels, it may be time to consider a lawsuit.
An Experienced NJ Employment Discrimination Attorney Can Help You
Employment discrimination is a serious problem for both employers and employees that can damage workplace morale, diminish the dignity and livelihood of employees, and result in costly lawsuits. Whether you are an employer defending against a discrimination claim, or an employee who has been subjected to discrimination, our employment discrimination attorneys in Marlton and Red Bank can take action. We will provide you with a clear and candid evaluation of any potential employment discrimination claims, as well as all legal options and recourse available to you.