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Kurkowski Law -- Discrimination

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD)

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) makes it unlawful to subject people to differential treatment based upon the characteristics that make up a particular individual. These are called the specified protected categories. The NJLAD make it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, nationality, ancestry, age, sex (including pregnancy), familial status, marital status, domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, genetic information, liability for military service, and mental or physical disability, perceived disability, and AIDS and HIV status.  The NJLAD is one of the most far reaching, extensive civil rights protection statutes in existence on a national scale.

The NJLAD and the Workplace

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits employers from discriminating in any job-related action, including recruitment, interviewing, hiring, promotions, discharge, compensation and the terms, conditions and privileges of employment on the basis of any of the law's specified protected categories. The LAD prohibits intentional discrimination based on any of these characteristics. Intentional discrimination may take the form of differential treatment or statements and conduct that reflect discriminatory animus or bias.

An employment policy or practice that is neutral in its terms may be deemed unlawful if the policy or practice has an adverse impact on protected groups. However, the disparate impact may be lawful if the employment policy or practice meets an important, legitimate business need that cannot be served with a non-discriminatory measure. Proving discrimination often is based upon witness statements and comparisons of the workforce.

Hostile Work Environment

Hostile work environment occurs when an employee is subjected to sexual, abusive, or offensive conduct because of his or her protected characteristic. Such conduct creates an unlawful work environment when it is severe or pervasive enough to make a reasonable person believe that the conditions of employment have been altered and the working environment has become hostile or abusive. This analytical framework may be applied to hostile work environments created because of an employee's race, nationality, creed, disability, gender, or other characteristics enumerated by the NJLAD. For example, racial slurs or offensive comments or jokes about a person's gender, sexual orientation, dress, culture, accent, race or ethnic background may be severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile or abusive environment that violates the NJLAD.

Disability Discrimination

The NJLAD prohibits employers from denying employment opportunities to people with disabilities unless the employer reasonably determines that the nature and extent of a person's disability reasonably precludes his or her safe performance of a particular job. In order for the decision to be reasonable, the employer must determine that the employee's disability precludes the performance of essential duties, not merely hinders the execution of some tasks. Furthermore, before deciding that a person's disability precludes his or her safe performance of a particular job, an employer must first consider the possibility of making reasonable accommodations, that is, adjustments to the work assignment or workplace, which may enable the person to perform the essential functions of his or her position. An accommodation may be required even if it causes the employer some inconvenience or cost. An employer must make reasonable accommodations to the limitations of an employee or applicant with a disability unless the accommodation imposes an undue hardship on the operation of its business. The NJLAD also protects employees from being differentially treated due to employer’s perception as having a disability, whether or not that employee is actually disabled.

Retaliation under the NJLAD

The NJLAD prohibits acts of reprisal against a person because he or she has opposed any practice or act forbidden under the LAD, or because he or she has filed a complaint, testified at or assisted in any proceeding under the LAD. Thus, the LAD prohibits adverse actions motivated by a desire to retaliate against a person for reporting or complaining about conduct that the person believes is unlawful discrimination. Similarly, actions designed to discourage people from giving testimony or from objecting to or reporting discrimination are also unlawful.

The NJLAD in Other Contexts of Society

The NJLAD also prohibits unlawful discrimination in housing, places of public accommodation, and credit and business contracts.  Regarding public accommodation, the NJLAD prohibits an owner, manager, or employee of any place that offers goods, services and facilities to the general public, such as a restaurant, hotel, doctor's office, camp, or theater, from directly or indirectly denying or withholding any accommodation, service, benefit, or privilege to an individual because of that individual's protected characteristic. A place of public accommodation must make reasonable modifications to its policies, practices or procedures to ensure that people with disabilities have access to public places. These reasonable accommodations may include actions such as providing auxiliary aides and making physical changes to ensure paths of travel.

EMPLOYMENT LAW       

QUICK LINKS

The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)  requires employers of 50 or more employees to give up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees.. more

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) makes it unlawful to subject people to differential treatment based upon the characteristics that make up a particular individual -- race, nationality, age, sex, marital status, perceived sexual orientation.. more

The New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act is one of the most far-reaching whistleblower statutes in the nation. Aimed to protect employee “whistleblowers,” the statute makes it unlawful for an employer to take adverse employment action(s) against an employee.. more


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