NJ Enforces Discrimination Based On Perceived Characteristics

The NJ Appellate Division expanded the reach of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”) in the matter of Cowher v. Carson & Roberts.  The NJLAD only contains express language preventing discrimination based on perceived sexual orientation.  In the Cowher case, the plaintiff was harassed because defendant perceived him to be Jewish and called him numerous anti-semitic slurs.  The Appellate Division expanded the scope of the NJLAD by ruling that “there is no reasoned basis to hold that the LAD protects those who are perceived to be members of one class of persons enumerated by the Act and does not protect those who are perceived to be members of a different class, as to which the LAD offers its protections in equal measure.”