Employment discrimination in New Jersey is when an employee or job applicant is treated unfairly or harassed by an employer’s CEO, a fellow employee, a supervisor or manager, a non-employee (such as a customer or vendor), or business associate because of his or her race, national origin, color, age, religion, disability, pregnancy, military status, citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity (or a protected class) it is illegal. For the past 25 years, the Derek Smith Law Group has helped people just like you receive the justice for employment discrimination they deserve.
What is Employment Discrimination in New Jersey?
Employment discrimination in New Jersey is when an employer, fellow employee, manager or supervisor, or non-employee treats an employee or job applicant unfairly because of any of the following reasons:
- National Origin
- Age (over 40)
- Genetic Information
- Sexual Orientation
- Equal Pay/Compensation
- Military Status
These are known as protected classes. A protected class is a group of people whose rights are protected under the law. An employer cannot take action against you simply because you are a member of this class. However, being part of a protected class does not mean that you cannot ever be reprimanded or fired. It simply means that there must be a legal reason that these events occurred that does not relate to your class status.
Discrimination in the workplace is prohibited by both federal and state laws in New Jersey. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is illegal for an employer of 15 employees or more to discriminate against an employee or job applicant simply because he or she is a member of a protected class.
Employment discrimination categories, such as race, age, citizenship, and disability are also protected by other state laws, including, but not limited to:
- U.S. Code §1981
- Fair Labor Standards Act
- The Equal Pay Act
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
- The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
- The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008
- The US Equality Act of 2015
New Jersey also has a law that protects against employment discrimination. The New Jersey Laws Against Discrimination (NJ LAD) prohibits an employer of any size, its employees, supervisors, and managers, or non-employees from discriminating against an employee who is a member of a protected class.
Employment discrimination in New Jersey comes in many forms. As a result, there are several different ways to prove this discrimination: Direct Evidence; Disparate Evidence; and Policy Evidence.
1. Direct Evidence. This is the “smoking gun” as many attorneys will say. This is the evidence that is very hard to deny and does not require any inferences. Direct evidence is when someone says directly to you or another person that you were treated unfairly because of your status as a member of a protected class. For instance, maybe you were not hired because you are pregnant. Or you were demoted because of your disability. This can also come in the form of an email, in which you are either copied intentionally or unintentionally.
2. Disparate Evidence. Disparate evidence is evidence that shows a pattern of discriminatory behavior. For instance, an African American job applicant was not hired for a job, however, a less-qualified Caucasian job applicant was hired for the same position. If this occurs on regular basis and the job applicant can show that the company did not have anyone that was African American working there, this can be disparate evidence to show the company is discriminating against the individual for being a part of a protected class.
3. Policy Evidence. Policy evidence can be extremely powerful evidence as well. It can stand alone or help support direct or disparate evidence. Policy evidence is when a policy exists that is meant to discriminate against people of a protected class. For instance, a policy that states that pregnant women are not to come to work once they start showing they are pregnant and will not be allowed to work from home is discriminatory against pregnant women and makes it impossible for a pregnant woman to earn an income while pregnant.
Workplace employment discrimination in New Jersey can come in many forms. Whenever an employee or job applicant is treated unfairly because of their status as a member of a protected class they are victims of employment discrimination. So, what does that mean? Here are some examples of what it means to be treated unfairly in the workplace:
- Wrongful Termination
- Retaliation for reporting discrimination
- Retaliation for refusing sexual advances
- Consistent joking in an offensive manner about race, religion, color, pregnancy, sexual orientation, or any other protected class
- Using derogatory words to describe a person’s gender
- Making unwanted sexual advances
- Criminal sexual activity
- Using racial slurs
- Refusing to promote a person because of his or her foreign accent
- Unequal pay for people of different ethnicities or genders
- Demoting an employee because of a disability
- Refusing benefits to an employee
- Forcing retirement of an employee over age 18 but under age 70
- Refusing to hire a pregnant woman
- Laying off individuals because of their national origin
- Refusing to hire an active military reservist
- Reporting an employee to ICE as a means of retaliation or to cause harm
- Refusing to hire a person legally entitled to work in the US because he or she was not born in the US or is not a naturalized citizen of the US
- Spreading lies and rumors about a person who refused your sexual advances at work
- Refusing Muslims the appropriate breaks needed to pray throughout the day
- Denying a person an opportunity to work on a project because of the color of his or her skin
- Refusing the use of public accommodations to transgender employees or job applicants
These are a few of many examples of employment discrimination in New Jersey. Of course, any time a person is harassed or treated unfairly by an employer, co-worker, supervisor, or non-employee, they are victimized by employment discrimination in the workplace.
If you wish to file a Title VII claim for employment discrimination, you need to file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the date of the last incident of discrimination. The EEOC will investigate your claim to make sure there is a Title VII issue and issue a Right to Sue letter to allow you to file your case in federal court.
The NJ LAD is governed by the New Jersey Department of Civil Rights (DCR). You have 2 years from the last day of the discrimination to file a claim with the DCR. Once the DCR investigates the claim, you will receive a Right to Sue letter to file your complaint in state court.
As mentioned above, there are many different federal laws providing different rights to employees and job applicants and protecting them from employment discrimination. Each law has its own set of time limits to file a case. For instance, Section 1981 allows 4 years from the date of the last incident of race discrimination to file a claim. Therefore, it is essential to know your rights and work with an attorney that can help you navigate the system.
When you decide to sue your employer for employment discrimination in New Jersey, it is natural to want to understand what relief the court may provide. The court can provide many remedies for workplace discrimination, including:
• Reinstatement of employment
• Reimbursement of back pay and benefit premiums
• Reinstatement of benefits
• Future pay
• Attorney’s fees
• Review and revamp of policies and procedures
• Reassignment or termination of harasser
• Pain and suffering
• Reimbursement of medical and other related expenses
• Emotional distress
• Punitive damages (damages intended to “punish” the employer. These are based in part on the gross profits of the company, the nature of the discrimination, and whether this is a first offense.)
The length of each case varies based on the circumstances. Sometimes, the employer wants to settle immediately to avoid litigation. Other times, they do not think that they are in the wrong, or do not feel like paying and decide to fight it. On average, employment discrimination cases in New Jersey usually take between 4 to 6 months and 1 to 2 years.
If the employer chooses to make a fair settlement offer before trial, then the case may only take a few months. However, if the employer refuses to offer a good-faith settlement, the case will likely go to trial, which will take much longer to complete.
As a victim of workplace employment discrimination, the evidence is extremely helpful. Additionally, following the rules regarding how to handle an issue in the workplace can go a long way to helping your case. Here are some things you can do now to prepare for trial:
- Contact a New Jersey employment discrimination attorney immediately.
- If you are still employed, do not quit your job. It can hurt your case.
- If your company has an HR department, contact them and file a complaint.
- If your company has a policy and procedure outlining how to deal with employment discrimination, read it and follow its guidelines.
- Gather evidence for your case. Document each incident, including what occurred, when and where it occurred, who was involved, and any witnesses to the incident.
Everyone deserves the right to have equal opportunity in the workplace and not be discriminated against based on their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability. If you have been discriminated against by your employer in New Jersey, the attorneys at Derek Smith Law Group are here to help. Contact us today at (973) 388-8625 for a free consultation. We do not get paid until your case is won.