Frequently Asked Questions About New Jersey Employment Discrimination
New Jersey law prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees. But what exactly does that mean? Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about employment discrimination in New Jersey.
I have been treated differently at work than my peers. Do I have a discrimination claim?
Not necessarily. Under New Jersey law, discrimination is actionable only if it is based on your membership in a legally protected category.
What are the legally protected categories under New Jersey law?
Those categories include age, race, color, national origin, disability, gender (or sex), pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion and marital status.
What types of actions taken against me at work can be legally actionable as discrimination?
New Jersey law prohibits a variety of adverse employment actions against employees to be taken because of their membership in a legally-protected category such as termination, constructive discharge, demotion, suspension, failure to hire and failure to promote, as well as harassment.
What is harassment?
Typically, harassment occurs when an employer takes other negative actions against an employee, such as joking, teasing, insulting, assigning undesirable tasks, isolating, or ignoring him or her, that are equally harmful to the victim as an adverse employment action.
When is harassment unlawful?
Just like any other form of discrimination, to be actionable under New Jersey’s anti-discrimination law, the harassment has to occur because you are a member of a legally-protected class. In addition, the harassment has to be severe (really bad) or pervasive (really frequent) enough that it has, in effect, changed the terms or conditions of your employment.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is just another name for harassment because of gender. While it often is sexual in nature, other forms of gender-based harassment can be legally actionable.
How long do I have to file a discrimination or harassment lawsuit?
The statute of limitations under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) is two years.
What types of damages can I recover if I win an employment discrimination lawsuit?
You potentially can recover damages for past and future lost wages (back pay and front pay) and emotional distress, as well as attorneys’ fees and litigation costs. In some cases, you also can recover punitive damages.