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, 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. When an employee makes a complaint about employment discrimination, employers sometimes unlawfully retaliate against them. 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 retaliation.
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 retaliation case. With our depth and breadth of experience, we can anticipate likely challenges and work tirelessly to overcome them.
Defining Workplace Retaliation & Employment Discrimination Retaliation
Retaliation in the workplace is defined as any unlawful punishment that occurs when an employer takes an adverse action towards an employee because he or she engaged in protected activity such as complaining about employment discrimination.
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) protects employees against employment discrimination based on certain protected classes, including pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment in the workplace, age discrimination, race discrimination, and more. It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against an employee who complains about workplace harassment or discrimination, or files a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Retaliation can take many forms, including:
- Job transfers
If you can demonstrate that your employer took any of these actions as a result of you speaking up or reporting illegal activity, you may have an employment discrimination retaliation case and should speak to a New Jersey employment lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options.
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?
You must be able to show evidence that you were treated differently than other employees 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.
FMLA Retaliation In The Workplace
One of the most common forms of employment discrimination we see in New Jersey is pregnancy discrimination. Qualified employees who are pregnant or have a serious medical condition are guaranteed a certain amount of leave time and job security under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, employers often unlawfully retaliate after employees use their FMLA time. Fortunately, New Jersey state and federal laws prohibit employer retaliation when an employee engages in the following activity:
- Taking family medical leave;
- Pregnancy leave; and/or
- Seeking accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Where Do I File An Employment Discrimination Complaint?
If you believe your employer has discriminated against you based on your race, age, pregnancy, disability, or other protected classification, you should immediately contact an employment discrimination attorney to discuss your rights and options.
After speaking with a lawyer, the 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 Retaliation Attorney Can Help You
Employment discrimination retaliation 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 retaliation claim, or an employee who has been subjected to discrimination, our employment discrimination retaliation attorneys in Marlton and Red Bank can take action. We will provide you with a clear and candid evaluation of any potential employment discrimination retaliation claims, as well as all legal options and recourses. Contact us today to discuss your rights and options.