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Your Rights in New Jersey If You Have Suffered Workplace Discrimination Based Upon Your Jewish Heritage or Faith (Actual or Perceived)

The New Jersey Herald reported on a recent federal case from Louisiana declared that discrimination based upon an employment candidate’s Jewish heritage could constitute racial discrimination in violation of federal law. The employee’s attorney declared the ruling to be “precedent-setting.” While this recent case does not have precedential impact in New Jersey, it is a useful opportunity to analyze the rights and protections available to New Jersey employees who find themselves in this type of situation. If you have been the victim of discrimination because of your heritage or someone’s perception about your heritage, you may have a claim in New Jersey. Talk an experienced New Jersey discrimination attorney to find out more about your situation.

In the recent federal case, an alumnus of a Baptist college in Louisiana applied for a coaching position. The college president allegedly refused to hire the man because of his “Jewish blood.” (The candidate’s mother was Jewish.) The case was not one of religious discrimination, as the candidate was not a practitioner of the Jewish religion. The candidate was born into a Jewish family but converted to Christianity during his time at the school and on the football team, according to the Herald.

So, what might happen to a similar employment candidate in New Jersey? The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination bans employment discrimination based upon “race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender, gender identity, disability, nationality, military status, or atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait.” Within that heading of creed is protection against discrimination based upon your religious belief or practices.

There is, of course, more than one way to commit anti-Jewish discrimination against an employee. The law requires that employers reasonably accommodate the religious practices of an employee’s sincerely-held faith. So, if an employer has an employee who is a practitioner of the Jewish faith, then the law may require that the employer schedule the employee’s work shifts, or otherwise give the employee time off, to allow the employee to meet his/her obligations regarding the Sabbath or other holidays or observances.

Additionally, you might be the victim of discrimination based upon a hostile work environment where you are targeted because of your Jewish faith or Jewish heritage. It is important to note that New Jersey law acknowledged several years ago that you don’t actually have to be Jewish in order to bring a successful discrimination case based upon anti-Jewish discrimination. If your employer discriminates against you because of the belief that you are Jewish (even though you’re not), you may still have a winning case.

In 2012, a non-Jew won such a case after enduring a hostile work environment that included several profane anti-Semitic slurs, comments that perpetuated negative anti-Semitic stereotypes and statements that viciously and crassly referenced the Holocaust. Even though the employee wasn’t Jewish, the conduct was enough to make a “reasonable Jew” perceive the work environment as hostile, so the employee had a valid claim.

If you have suffered anti-Jewish discrimination at your job, whether based on your heritage, your religion or both, you have options under the law. Contact the knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Our attorneys have spent countless hours working to help our clients protect their right to be free of discrimination at work . 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:

Township Employee Receives $1.25M Settlement in Case Alleging Multiple Varieties of Anti-Semitic Slurs, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, June 27, 2018

Auto Parts Store Agrees to Cash Settlement and Policy Changes After Allegations of Religious Discrimination, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, Jan. 18, 2018

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