New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination: Discrimination Not Always Required
New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) protects employees from wrongful termination or other acts based on their race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, age, or other protected characteristic. The LAD is a remedial statute, meaning that the legislature enacted the law not only as a preventative measure, but as a direct response to the rampant discrimination in employment that was being observed. As a result, New Jersey’s courts read the LAD law broadly, providing for expansive protection to employees.
Not only does the LAD protect employees from being fired because of their race, gender, or other protected classification, it also protects employees from being fired, demoted, or mistreated in retaliation of that employee’s objections to discriminatory practices that she has observed against other employees. Therefore if one employee observes another employee being discriminated against and the observing employee complains, protests against, or objects to the discriminatory action, she cannot be fired in retaliation for objecting. The observing employee also cannot be retaliated against for aiding or encouraging any other person from objecting to discriminatory acts by the employer.
Therefore an employee may have a valid retaliation claim under the LAD if she was fired, demoted, or otherwise mistreated in retaliation for that employee’s objections to discriminatory acts by the employer. There needs to sufficient evidence to show that the employee’s objections played a role in the decision to fire her (or take other negative action). It is the employee’s burden to prove these elements.