What is considered discrimination?
When someone is discriminated against, they are treated unfairly based on any of the following factors:
- Gender (including gender identity)
- Sexual orientation
- National origin
Discrimination can happen anywhere and to anyone, regardless of their circumstances.
Who is protected by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination?
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) offers several types of protection.
Primarily, it serves to protect individuals based on any of the above-stated protected characteristics, like race, gender, and age.
The law applies to employment and housing, along with areas of public accommodation, like businesses and places generally open to the public.
Along with protecting against discrimination, LAD serves to protect individuals against any type of harassment, including sexual harassment.
When it comes to discrimination and harassment, retaliation is a significant concern. Under this law, retaliating against an individual for complaining about discrimination or harassment is illegal.
For example, if you file a complaint about discrimination you are experiencing in the workplace, it is unlawful for your employer to retaliate against you in any way, including terminating your employment, demoting you, or cutting your pay.
How can I prove discrimination?
Proving discrimination requires taking a look at your case and identifying the most effective type of evidence for your particular situation.
Evidence that could be used to prove discrimination includes:
- Communication with your employer
- Witness statements
- A written account of discriminatory incidents
- Other relevant documentation
An employment attorney can help obtain pertinent evidence and information to help build your case and prove you were discriminated against in the workplace.
Are there different types of discrimination?
Discrimination is often based on your protected class, like race, sex, gender, religion, and the like. Your specific experience with discrimination can vary, as discrimination comes in many shapes and sizes.
Direct discrimination occurs when you are treated differently from others based on certain characteristics. For example, if your employer refuses to give you a promotion simply because you’re pregnant, this is a form of direct discrimination.
Indirect discrimination is still discrimination, just not as overt. For example, if a company policy seems innocent on its face, but acting on the policy discriminates against certain classes, this could be indirect discrimination.
Harassment is another common form of discrimination. When you are being harassed, you may face behavior that makes you uncomfortable and makes your work environment hostile and unwelcoming.
If you believe you are being discriminated against at work, no matter what that may look like for you personally, it is best to discuss your circumstances with an employment attorney for guidance.
How do I report workplace discrimination?
You can start by reporting discrimination in the workplace to your supervisor or Human Resources (HR) department. This is often the first step.
In most cases, if your employer does nothing to correct the issues you are facing in the workplace, you can file a complaint with either the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Additionally, it is helpful to consult with an employment lawyer as soon as you are able to get personalized legal advice on your matter.
Do all companies have to follow anti-discrimination laws?
Yes. Several anti-discrimination laws exist at the state and federal levels. All in all, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person based on specific characteristics.
What damages can I recover from a discrimination lawsuit?
Damages available to you depend on the details of your case. However, damages may include payments for:
- Lost wages and benefits
- Emotional distress
- Attorneys’ fees
- Punitive damages
An employment attorney can help determine how much your case is worth and help you pursue the most favorable outcome.
Are there federal laws that protect against discrimination?
Yes. States must follow federal laws against discrimination, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).