Workplace Discrimination is illegal. New Jersey laws are in place to protect workers from unfairly losing income due to discrimination. The basic right to work should never be jeopardized by someone’s narrow view of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity or age. Not only do workplace discrimination laws exist to protect you from losing your job, but they also are there to ensure fair job opportunities for hiring, payment, promotion and training.
The state of New Jersey has defined certain protected classes or traits for which you cannot be discriminated against by your employer. If you believe that you have been discriminated against for any one of these protected traits, you may have a workplace discrimination claim which could earn you compensation for lost income.
|The protected traits under New Jersey workplace discrimination law are as follows|
|Race, Creed, Color|
|National Origin, Nationality, Ancestry|
|Sex (this includes pregnancy and sexual harassment)|
|Marital Status, Domestic Partnership, Civil Union Status|
|Sexual Orientation, Affectional Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression|
|Atypical Hereditary Cellular or Blood Trait, Genetic Information Liability|
|Mental or Physical Disability (this includes AIDS and HIV related illnesses)|
The NJ Laws Against Discrimination (LAD) deems any intentional discrimination based on these listed traits or characteristics as unlawful.
Types of Workplace Discrimination
New Jersey discrimination in the workplace is not isolated to hiring and firing. Discrimination could be present in any form of differential treatment. If there is proof that any discriminatory actions, behaviors or commentary occurred in any circumstance, you likely have a workplace discrimination claim.
When individuals are exempted from consideration for new job opportunities based on any of the above listed protected traits, that is discrimination. This includes all aspects of the hiring process, including recruitment, interviewing, hiring and promotions. All potential employees who offer the same education and experience should have equal opportunity for job consideration.
If different payment scales are offered based solely on any of the protected traits listed above, that is also discrimination. Some of these cases can be difficult to prove since many factors could be listed as reasons for varying pay scales, including experience and job performance. However, if payment discrepancies are pervasive throughout a company among employees of the same protected class or trait, there may be a provable claim of discrimination.
Even if you are already an employee, job discrimination in New Jersey can sometimes occur in terms of the extras that are offered to workers. Any privileges offered to employees must be equal based on job level, not based on individual characteristics. Perks like employee discounts, expense accounts, health benefits or any other bonus items cannot be excluded based on the protected traits. Likewise, on the job training offerings must be offered on equal terms to all classes of employees at each level of employment.
When an employee is fired or discharged from an employer, the same discrimination laws must be obeyed. No one may be fired strictly because of a protected trait. If severance packages or exit compensation is the norm for a company, employees must be offered equal terms based on service and performance, not individual characteristics. It is important to note that employees of protected classes can still be fired based on performance or other issues. There must, however, be proof that discrimination was not the sole reason for job loss or severance differences.
What to Expect in a Workplace Discrimination Lawsuit
The first step in any legal process is sitting down with you, our client, to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with a workplace discrimination action against your employer. We must determine first if you are, in fact, a member of one of the protected classes, and second that your employer made an adverse employment action against you based on your status in that protected class.
We will then issue a demand letter to your employer outlining your charges against them. This serves as the first notice that a discrimination lawsuit may result if the matter cannot be resolved outside of court. If your employer responds to the letter, we will work on your behalf to negotiate a pre-suit settlement.
If the matter cannot be resolved during these pre-suit discussions, the next step is to file your complaint. Once the complaint is filed, your employer has an additional 35 days within which to answer your complaint before discovery begins. Discovery can take over a year, depending on the case. During discovery, interviews are conducted, documents are exchanged and depositions are taken. Everything learned in discovery can then be used during trial.
It is our goal to help our clients understand each step of this legal process as it occurs. We will keep you informed and answer any questions you may have. Likewise, we will spend many hours asking you specific questions about your experiences in an effort to get a complete understanding of how the discrimination took place. Many discrimination cases utilize circumstantial and anecdotal evidence since most who discriminate take steps to prevent hard proof from being available. Be prepared for thorough questioning from us as well as opposing lawyers during the discovery process and resulting trial.
Contact Our Offices Today
If you believe you have been discriminated against in the workplace, do not hesitate to call our offices today for a free initial consultation. Keep in mind that discrimination cases carry a 2-year statute of limitations. This means that you only have 2 years between when the discriminatory action took place and the filing of your claim. Since time is of the essence, the sooner we can begin to work with you on your case, the better chance you have of success. You deserve the right to work, free from discrimination. Do not let an employer’s prejudice keep you from earning what you are due. Call us today to begin the process. We look forward to working with you.