In New Jersey, individuals have the right to be free from unlawful discrimination in the workplace. In addition to federal laws, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) prohibits employers from treating employees and job applicants differently based on certain characteristics that are not related to their performance or qualifications.
If you have been a victim of workplace discrimination, you need an experienced employment attorney to fight for your rights. The law firm of Lenzo & Reis, LLC, has expertise in all aspects of employment law and routinely works with clients who have been harmed by employment discrimination.New Jersey Law Against Discrimination
In New Jersey, it is unlawful for an employer, supervisor or co-worker to treat an employee differently because of any of the following legally protected characteristics:
- Race, natural hair, color, ancestry, nationality or national origin
- Sex and gender discrimination
- Gender identity
- Sexual orientation
- Pregnancy and family responsibility
- Marital status, civil union status or domestic partnership status
- Military service
The law against discrimination makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of legally protected characteristics when making decisions about:
- Terms and conditions of employment
The law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for filing a complaint regarding a prohibited practice or testifying or assisting in related legal proceedings.
The Law Against Discrimination makes it illegal for employers to pay employees of any protected class less than they pay any other type of employee for substantially similar work. To justify why they pay different classes of employees differently for substantially similar work, employers must be able to show that the differential is the result of legitimate, bona fide factors, such as training, education, experience, the amount or quality of production, job-related factors that are based on business necessity, or factors other than the protected category of the employees.
Employees who can show that they are paid less than other groups of employees not of the same protected category are entitled to collect back pay for six years and may recover three times their economic damages (lost wages) if the employer cannot show that the wage differential is justified.Age Discrimination is Illegal
In New Jersey, discrimination based on an employee’s age is illegal, regardless of whether the employee is targeted for being older or younger. However, it is much more common for older employees to be subjected to age discrimination than it is for younger employees. For example, older employees typically have higher salaries, causing them to be the first ones laid off when employers look to cut costs through workforce reductions. Some supervisors also mistakenly believe that younger employees are more driven, have new ideas and are more skilled than older workers.Employers Often Veil Their Race Discrimination Motives
Today, many employees are still victims of discrimination based on their race, although employers often conceal their motives and intentions and rarely engage in obvious racial discrimination. Individuals are also often subject to discrimination based on their ancestry, ethnicity, nationality or national origin.Gender Discrimination is Still a Problem in the Workplace
Despite the gains women have made in a wide range of workplaces and professional settings, gender discrimination in New Jersey is still widespread. This occurs when women are not promoted to the highest leadership positions for reasons unrelated to their qualifications, or when they receive unequal pay or are assigned menial tasks. Women are also still targets of the most blatant form of discrimination, sexual harassment. While women are more often victims of gender discrimination, men can also be subjected to gender discrimination and are equally protected under the law.Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination
Although society has become far more accepting of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, they are still not treated fairly by some employers. The state’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) makes it illegal for employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.Marital Status Discrimination is Unlawful
Some employers and supervisors may have their own stereotypes about whether single or married employees are more likely to work hard, so discrimination can occur against individuals based on whether they are married, single, widowed or divorced. The LAD prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of marital status, domestic partnership status or civil union status.Disabled People are Frequently Treated Unfairly at Work
Because individuals with medical conditions often require accommodations such as leaves of absence, they are frequently treated unfairly in the workplace. Some employers and supervisors believe accommodations can be disruptive to the business or an inconvenience to other employees. Nonetheless, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against workers with disabilities and businesses are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations.Employers Unwilling to Accommodate Maternity Leaves Can Be Liable for Pregnancy Discrimination
Pregnant employees, like employees with other medical conditions, often require accommodations such as modified work schedules. Some employers will thus find it undesirable to accommodate pregnancy and its related medical conditions and limitations.New Jersey Employers are Required to Provide Reasonable Accommodations for Religious Practices
The LAD prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals based upon their religion. In addition, New Jersey law may consider it religious discrimination if an employer fails to provide employees with reasonable accommodations for religious practices, such as modified work schedules.How Can I Prove Employment Discrimination in New Jersey?
While workplace discrimination is illegal, proving a case can be difficult. Employers do not usually create direct evidence that they are unlawfully discriminating against an employee. Instead, attorneys usually must prove discrimination circumstantially. That means demonstrating that the reasons an employer offered for taking an adverse employment action against an employee were a pretext or smokescreen for discrimination. We do that one of two ways:
One method is to show that the employer’s justification is simply untrue. For example, if an employer claims it fired an employee for being late, we might use time records to show that the employee was on time.
The second method of proving pretext is to show that while the employer’s justification was true, it was not the real motivating factor. For example, if the employer claims that it fired an older employee for being late, but we can demonstrate that the employer knew several younger employees were also late and did not discipline those employees, that would be proof of age discrimination.
The discrimination claims attorneys at Lenzo & Reis, LLC, have extensive experience representing clients who have suffered discrimination in the workplace. We are dedicated to understanding the unique circumstances of each case, thoroughly investigating the evidence and fighting vigorously for our clients in court. If you have been a victim of employment discrimination, you may be able to recover compensation for lost wages and benefits, emotional distress, and attorneys’ fees. Call our office today at (973) 845-9922 for a free case evaluation over the phone with a lawyer or send us an email. We serve clients in Morristown and Newark and throughout New Jersey.