The New Jersey Laws Against Discrimination, or LAD, prohibits discrimination in the workplace and protects workers from being discriminated against or exploited by their employers. To ensure the law is not vague or unclear, the state has fifteen defined categories of protected traits or characteristics against which workers may not be discriminated.
Categories Protected Against Employment Discrimination by the NJLAD:
- Creed (Religion)
- National Origin
- Marital or Domestic Partnership, or Civil Union Status
- Gender Identity or Expression
- Military Service
- Affectional or Sexual Orientation
- Atypical Cellular or Blood Trait
- Genetic Information
Federal Laws Against Discrimination
The New Jersey LAD is in addition to already existing laws within the federal government that protect against discrimination in various forms and expressions. While federal laws offer many of the same protections, they are typically separated among different acts throughout history.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex or national origin. It isn’t until the amended Civil Rights Act of 1991 that they include that monetary damages can be awarded to the plaintiff of successful discrimination cases. Separately, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) protects men and women against unequal pay for the same job based on gender. The ADEA, or Age Discrimination in Employment Act, was enacted in 1967 to protect against age discrimination. The Rehabilitation Act of 173 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 each protect workers with disabilities from being discriminated against in both the federal government and the private sector, respectively. Most recently, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits discrimination against those with specific genetic markers.
Rather than list out each law separately, as the federal laws do, New Jersey brings all protected classes together under the same umbrella of the LAD. By enacting the NJ LAD, the state endeavors to broaden the scope of the protections offered by the federal government by encompassing more protected categories and prohibiting discrimination in more varying forms.
Where discrepancies exist between the federal and state laws, New Jersey will find based on whichever law or set of laws offers more protections to the worker or employee, usually the NJ LAD.
Filing a Complaint
The first step in making an allegation of discrimination against your employer, a co-worker, or a client is to be sure you are part of one of the above protected classes of individuals, and you were, in fact, discriminated against solely because of that categorization. If you are confident that both are true, then it is time to contact an experienced employment law firm to go over your experiences and begin building your case.
Your lawyer will begin by asking many questions, so if you have been able to keep detailed notes of the discrimination you observed or were subjected to, that can help show that you have reason for your claim. Your attorneys will likely wish to interview others in your workplace as well to substantiate your claims and help show a clear pattern of discriminatory behavior, if possible.
Once you and your lawyer have completed all inquiries, investigations, depositions, and discovery, you will submit your complaints to the Director of the NJ Division on Civil Rights. The state will then conduct its own investigation to determine if there is enough probable cause against your employer to back your allegation of discrimination. According to the NJ Office of the Attorney General, “Probable cause for purposes of LAD analysis has been described as a reasonable ground for suspicion supported by facts and circumstances strong enough to warrant a cautious person to believe that the law was violated and that the matter should proceed to hearing.”
Once the presiding judge in your case has heard all presentments, they will make their recommendation based on the existing evidence versus the federal and state laws outlined above. Their recommendation will undergo further review by the Director of the NJ Department of Civil Rights for a final ruling on your case.
Contact Castronovo & McKinney
If you believe you have been subjected to or have witnessed employment discrimination, contact the experienced New Jersey discrimination lawyers at Castronovo & McKinney today. We work diligently for our clients because every individual deserves the right to work and earn a living, free from discrimination.
Whether you were denied the opportunity to interview for a job, be considered for a promotion, or receive your due pay raise, we can help. You may be concerned instead about a difference in your benefits or exit package, or believe you were fired based on discriminatory reasons. We believe that anyone who is willing to work hard, should be afforded the same opportunities for career advancement, pay scale and longevity than their coworkers and peers.
Contact us today to ask questions about your experience or to begin the process of filing a complaint against either your employer, a coworker or a client or customer in your workplace. Federal and state laws are in place to protect you and your right to work.
Don’t delay; contact our offices today via phone or our contact form on this page. The statute of limitations on employment discrimination cases is two years from the incident. Hesitation now could mean you miss your opportunity. We look forward to serving you.