Protecting Employees From Discrimination
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJ LAD) makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee or potential employee based on race, national origin, age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identification, mental or physical disability, religion, or pregnancy. An employer that refuses to interview, hire, or promote an individual, makes compensation decisions, or terminates an employee based upon these protected classifications, is in violation of the NJ LAD. The NJ LAD also requires employers to consider making a reasonable accommodation to employees who are disabled. Employers that tolerate discriminatory remarks or harassment being made against employees are also in violation of the law. Lastly, the NJ LAD protects employees from being retaliated against if they report or object to discrimination or harassment.
The Atlantic County employment lawyers at Levine, Staller, Sklar, Chan & Brown, P.A. are dedicated to protecting employees and prospective employees from discrimination and unlawful termination in the workplace. The team of employment discrimination lawyers at the firm work diligently to ensure that employees’ civil rights are protected and that employers take proactive measures to ensure compliance with the NJ LAD.
Employer Responsibilities Under the NJ LAD
All New Jersey employers regardless of their size are required to comply with the NJ LAD. In certain circumstances, the NJ LAD also protects independent contractors. Moreover, the LAD prohibits businesses from refusing to enter into a contract or doing business with an individual on the basis of a protected characteristic.
New Jersey employers must consider all qualified applicants for employment. Qualified candidates considered for employment must be treated fairly when employment is offered. An employer that offers a female lower compensation than a male with the same qualifications is in violation of the New Jersey Equal Pay Act. Failing to promote an older worker in favor of a younger, less qualified employee is another example of an NJ LAD violation.
The NJ LAD Protects Pregnant Employees
Pregnant women are also protected under the NJ LAD. In addition, under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, employers are required to provide pregnant women with a reasonable accommodation for pregnancy related complications, unless the accommodation request creates an undue hardship on the employer.
The NJ LAD Protects Employees From Harassment
Employers that are aware of an employee being harassed on the basis of their age, race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability by a supervisor or colleague, and do nothing to stop the behavior, are also violating the law. Once an employer knows or has reason to know of unlawful conduct, it has an obligation to fully investigate any discriminatory conduct and take appropriate action. Employers who fail to do so may be found liable in an employment discrimination lawsuit.
It is for this reason that we always recommend that employers adopt policies that clearly outline which discriminatory behaviors and actions are unlawful and provide employees with resources to report discrimination in the workplace. Effective reporting, investigating, and correcting mechanisms can shield employers from liability.
The NJ LAD Protects Employees From Retaliation
Retaliation against an employee for reporting discrimination or refusing to participate in discriminatory actions is unlawful. Employees are protected from retaliatory actions, such as demotions, unlawful termination, failure to promote, and harassment.
What Should an Employee Do if They Experience Discrimination or Harassment?
Employees who believe they are a victim of employment discrimination or harassment should act immediately. Reporting the incident or ongoing behavior to your employer, supervisor, or human resources department as soon as possible. We recommend that employees make such reports in writing if possible, and to follow any reporting procedures your employer may have established. Employers and managers are responsible for investigating the reports and taking appropriate action to end workplace discrimination and harassment.
What Should Employers Do If They Receive a Report of Discrimination or Harassment?
First employers should adopt proactive policies and procedures to safeguard against discrimination and harassment. Once a complaint of harassment or discrimination is received, an employer must take the complaint seriously, and conduct a thorough and impartial investigation, and should interview any and all relevant witnesses.
In some instances, it may be prudent for an employer to hire counsel to conduct the investigation. If the investigation reveals that an employee has been discriminated against or harassed in the workplace, the employer should take action to correct the unlawful behavior. Lastly, the employer should ensure that victims and/or employees who report discrimination or harassment are not retaliated against for having reported violations of the NJ LAD.
Lawsuits Under the LAD
The NJ LAD can be difficult to interpret and navigate for a lay person. Victims of employment discrimination are wise to consult an experienced employment lawyer to ensure that their legal rights are protected and that they receive the maximum amount of compensation available under the law. An employment discrimination lawsuit can enable victims to claim one or more of the following:
- Reinstatement in cases of wrongful termination
- Back pay
- Front pay
- Compensatory damages, including pain and suffering, humiliation, and emotional distress
- Punitive Damages
- Attorney fees and costs
- Injunction relief (a court order to stop the unlawful behavior)
Because a violation of the NJ LAD can have serious and costly consequences, we recommend employers hire counsel to help ensure you have appropriate anti-discrimination policies and to vigorously defend your business if a lawsuit is filed.
Atlantic County Employment Lawyers at Levine Staller Help Those Who Experience Discrimination in the Workplace
If you or someone you know was a victim of discrimination in the workplace, you may be entitled to compensation. If your business has been sued for a violation of the NJ LAD, our lawyers have extensive experience defending such claims. Call the Atlantic County employment lawyers at Levine, Staller, Sklar, Chan & Brown, P.A. at 609-348-1300 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Our Atlantic City, New Jersey office serves clients throughout Atlantic County, Cumberland County, Ocean County, and Cape May County.