New Jersey Law Against Discrimination
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) is a state law that protects New Jersey employees from discrimination in the workplace. This law provides protection to employees from discrimination or harassment from employers or coworkers based on race, national origin, age, sex, gender identification, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, disability, pregnancy or military status. Under this legislation, it is unlawful for an employer to deny application, employment, promotion, compensation, job postings, training, benefits or disability leave to anyone based on the above criteria. The employer is also responsible for ensuring that employees are not harassed by supervisors, managers or co-workers that are intolerant of an individual’s traits or preferences.
Additionally, the NJLAD protects breastfeeding mothers from discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The law further requires employers to provide nursing mothers with adequate time for breaks to express or pump their milk in a private space that is not a toilet stall.
New Jersey and Federal Laws Against Discrimination
The NJLAD applies to all employers in the state of New Jersey. The federal laws against discrimination that are outlined in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provide comparable protection to all workers employed by companies with over 15 employees. Both the state and federal laws against discrimination are written to ensure that everyone in New Jersey and the rest of the country have an equal opportunity to pursue, maintain and advance their employment without consideration that is based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation that is both real and perceived, age, ability or marital status. Employees are also protected under these laws from retaliation that may occur from reporting discriminating practices to employers or state and federal agencies.
Protection is also granted to military personnel who may have to take leave from their job to return to active duty or deployment. Employers are required to hold their job or offer a comparable position upon their return from service. Failure to do so is in direct violation of NJLAD and federal anti-discrimination laws. Any employer that demotes or terminates an employee because of absence due to military service can be held liable under state and federal laws.
Resolving Discriminatory Practices in the Workplace
Individuals who experience discrimination in the workplace have several options to help resolve the situation. Employees are always encouraged to report discrimination to their employers. Discrimination by supervisors, managers, or colleagues needs to be documented from its initial stages. Failure to do so will impede the employee’s defense if the issue cannot be resolved at their place of employment.
If the employer does not appropriately address or resolve an issue of discrimination, the employee can file a complaint at the state level at the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, in the Division of Civil Rights. The employee also has the right to file a formal complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These agencies will fully investigate the complaint and determine if in fact violations of the NJLAD or the federal laws against discrimination under Title VII have been violated.
In all cases of discrimination, it is wise to contact an experienced and qualified employment discrimination lawyer that can advise you of your legal rights and provide you with sound legal strategy and representation. The laws are specific, and the NJLAD has a two year statute of limitations, so it is important to report and seek counsel immediately. A skilled employment lawyer can also file for damages, reinstatement of employment and compensation for attorney fees at both State and Federal courts.
Proving Discrimination in the Workplace
There are basically four points that employees and their attorneys will need to prove to successfully show that they have been a victim of employment discrimination. The first is that the employee must be part of one of the classes that are afforded protection under the NJLAD or the federal laws against discrimination. The employee must also prove that they were meeting the responsibilities of their job descriptions and the expectations of their employers during and before the time that the discrimination took place.
An employee must also show evidence that they were terminated, demoted, denied promotion or harassed because of their race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identification, age, religion, disability or military status. It is also necessary for the employee to show that they were denied, replaced or passed over for an opportunity or position that a less qualified person or one outside of their protected class was given.