Articles Tagged with harassment

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typing.jpg In the last several years, many states have passed laws prohibiting cyber-harassment, cyber-stalking, and cyber-bullying to reflect the evolution of today’s society which, more and more, is becoming centered around electronic communications.

While New Jersey has been a strong advocate of anti-bullying and harassment laws, it has only recently passed a law which specifically criminalizes cyber-harassment. The law was considered to be, in large part, a reaction to the increase in the number of teens who have committed suicide after suffering online harassment. It passed both houses of the state legislature unanimously and was signed into law shortly thereafter by Governor Christie.

This law makes cyber-harassment a crime of the fourth degree, unless the harasser is 21 years old or older and the targeted person is a minor. In that case, it is considered a crime in the third degree. New Jersey’s Criminal Code provides that a third degree crime may result in 3 to 5 years of imprisonment if convicted and a fourth degree crime may result in up to 18 months of imprisonment. The law specifies that these crimes could also be penalized by either a $10,000 fine (for a fourth degree offense) or a $15,000 fine (for a third degree offense) either in addition to or instead of the jail time.
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New Jersey protects employees from discrimination and harassment in employment when the discrimination or harassment is based upon a protected type or classification of person. For instance the following classes are protected by New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination: age, race, creed/religion, color, national origin (your family’s country of birth), nationality (your country of birth or where you are a citizen), and service in the United States armed forces.

The Law Against Discrimination also protects people from discrimination based upon their gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status (though typically only with respect to housing discrimination), civil union status, domestic partnership status, gender identity or expression. Further, it also protects classifications based upon mental or physical handicaps or disability, perceived disability, AIDS/HIV status, genetic information, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, refusal to submit to a genetic test or make available the results of a genetic test to an employer, and any other characteristic protected under applicable federal, state or local laws or regulations.

The Law Against Discrimination not only covers employment practices, but also prohibits unlawful discrimination in housing, credit and business contracts, and places of public accommodation.
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New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination

New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (the “LAD”) protects many people, particularly employees, from discrimination because of their race, ethnicity or religion, among other things. Discrimination can take many forms, but includes direct tangible adverse employment actions, such as firing, demotion, etc., and harassment which cause a hostile work environment. In order to constitute discrimination, harassment must be either “severe or pervasive,” and severe or pervasive enough to create a “hostile work environment.”

The Law on Poorly Aimed Discrimination

The law prohibiting discrimination and harassment is well established. However, an issue arose as to whether discrimination or harassment based not on a person’s actual race, ethnicity or religion, but on his incorrectly perceived religion, race or ethnicity is also protected.

The LAD also protects against discrimination or harassment based on disability. As far back as 1982, New Jersey Supreme Court noted in a footnote, Anderson v. Exxon Co., 89 N.J. 483 (1982), that employers could not discriminate based on a perceived disability, even if the employee was not actually disabled. Although that was not the issue in the Supreme Court’s 1982 decision, the Appellate Division shortly thereafter decided another case, affirming the rule that employers could not discriminate based on a perceived, even if an incorrectly perceived, physical disability.

The LAD also prohibits discrimination in housing. In 1987, the Superior Court’s trial division found that a landlord had violated the LAD by refusing to rent an apartment to three gay men (sexual orientation is also protected by the LAD), based on the landlord’s perceived but on the mistaken perception that they would contract AIDS.
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