Articles Tagged with “New Jersey Law Against Discrimination”

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wheelchair-1365410__340-300x300Our employment lawyers represent employers and employees in New Jersey labor and employment litigation.  Each employment case has two parts.  The first is liability – did the employer commit the wrongful act of which it is accused by the employee?  If the answer is no, the case is over; if the answer is yes, then the employee must prove damages.  One question which has bedeviled courts is whether unemployment compensation received by an employee should reduce the damages she can receive for lost pay resulting from an allegedly discriminatory firing.  The Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey has now answered this question with a resounding “no.”

New Jersey provides a wide range of employment protections to employees.  These laws provide for a range of remedies if employees are the victim of unlawful conduct by their employer.  Some laws provide for recovery of damages for emotional distress.  Sometimes, in especially egregious cases, punitive damages may be available.  If the particular statutes provide for it, such as New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (known as the “LAD”) and the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (known as “CEPA”), if the employee is successful at trial the court may even order the employer to pay the employee’s attorneys fees.

The basic element of damages in employment cases, however, is lost pay.  All other elements of damages flow from lost pay.  If an employee is unemployed for a year, the pay she would have made during that time is recoverable as damages if she wins her suit.  If after a year she then gets a job earning $10,000 per year less, the difference is recoverable as well.  If after a year she gets a job making the same or more money, her damages end when she gets the new job.

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imagesNew Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (the “LAD”) makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, age, nationality, gender, religion, sexual orientation and several other specifically protected groups.  While this covers an array of relationship scenarios, it is often applied in the context of an employment relationship.

Any person who has been subjected to unlawful discrimination in employment may file a lawsuit under the LAD. The LAD specifically provides for remedies to include all those that are available in typical tort actions.  A tort action is generally a civil action in which one person or entity sues another for some wrongful conduct which the actor committed in breach of some actual or implied duty to the other person or entity (other than by way of a breach of contract).  These damages may involve a number of categories such as back (past lost) pay, front (future) pay, emotional distress, lost benefits, etc.  The act also provides for punitive damages – meaning damages in addition to actual losses which are imposed to punish the wrongdoer for egregious and/or intentional acts, and deter future wrongful acts.

In virtually every employment discrimination case, the plaintiff is required to mitigate her losses.  This means that an employee who has, for example, been fired because of a discriminatory purpose or motivation, must make reasonable efforts to find another job to reduce her damages.

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imagesCAWQ89PS.jpgThe United States Supreme Court recently issued a decision on a contentious question in employment law , with important implications for New Jersey employment disputes – can an employee who did not engage in protected activity sue his employer for firing him to retaliate against a friend or family member who is a whistleblower? Lower courts had split, but the Supreme Court unanimously sided with the employee and said yes.

Anti-Discrimination Statutes

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment because of an employee’s “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination also prohibits discrimination for these reasons, and also because of an employee’s age, ancestry, disability, marital or civil union status, domestic partnership status, sexual orientation, gender identity, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, military service obligations, nationality, genetic information, refusal to submit to a genetic test, or refusal to let an employer know the results of a genetic test.

Both Title VII and the New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who make complaints of discrimination.
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