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The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination: What It Means for You as a Worker in the Garden State

Legal News GavelIf you follow the news as it relates to politics and the law, you are probably familiar with the many stories about federal courts wrestling with questions regarding how far the protections of federal anti-discrimination law extend, particularly as it relates to sexual orientation and gender identity. Fortunately for workers here, New Jersey has a state law that extends the legal prohibitions against discrimination even further than the federal law does. As a worker in New Jersey, the Law Against Discrimination protects you from a wide array of forms of discrimination at work. Whether you’ve been fired, demoted, denied promotion, harassed, or otherwise harmed at work due to discrimination, you may have a claim for recovery through a civil action under the Law Against Discrimination. To find out more about your rights and how you can potentially obtain monetary compensation due to workplace discrimination, you should reach out to a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination attorney.

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination was originally signed into law in 1945. In the nearly 75 years since then, it has been amended several times to expand the range of protections it offers. Most people probably know that this law protects workers from employment discrimination based on race, sex, creed/religion, national origin, age, and disability. However, New Jersey’s does much more.

As noted above, while the federal courts are wrangling with the exact boundaries of the federal anti-discrimination law (Title VII) regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, in New Jersey there is no doubt, since the Law Against Discrimination expressly bans discrimination at work based upon an employee or employment candidate’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

In addition, the law also bans employers from discriminating based upon an employee or employment candidate’s genetic information, “atypical cellular or blood trait,” or military service. So what does genetic information cover? This actually can be a variety of things. Certainly, it includes discrimination based on the results of existing genetic testing. (For example, if you have had genetic testing and show the genetic marker for predisposition for breast cancer, your employer cannot use that in making employment decisions.)

However, this also bars your employer from discriminating against you based upon your refusal to submit to genetic testing. Thus, if your employer asks you to take a genetic test and you say “no,” your employer cannot take an adverse action against you at work because of that refusal. “Atypical cellular or blood trait” can include such things as the sickle cell trait or hemoglobin C trait.

Furthermore, New Jersey’s lawmakers have been proactive in adding to the Law Against Discrimination to respond to emerging needs. In January of this year, former Governor Christie signed into law a bill that made discrimination against breastfeeding mothers a banned practice under the Law Against Discrimination. Effective as of Jan. 8, the new addition covered mothers’ activities regarding both feeding and expressing breast milk. Employers must now ensure that their breastfeeding employees have appropriate break time to express milk and have a suitable location to do so. The law also makes it clear that a toilet stall is not a suitable location.

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits a wide variety of types of workplace discrimination. If you believe you have been a victim of illegal discrimination on the job, consult the diligent New Jersey employment discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Our attorneys have been providing determined and effective representation to New Jersey workers for many years. Reach us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and to find out how we can help you.

More blog posts:

New Jersey Governor Signs Law Prohibiting Salary History Inquiries in State Employee Hiring, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, March 13, 2018

When You Should (or Shouldn’t) Agree to Arbitrate Your New Jersey Employment Discrimination Case, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, Feb. 13, 2018

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