Employees have the right to work in a place free of discrimination. When an employee is discriminated against because of a disability, they should take action and protect their quality of life. In an employment context, New Jersey law prohibits employers and labor unions from discriminating against people with disabilities. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJ LAD) protects those currently suffering from a disability and those who have previously suffered or are perceived to be suffering from a covered disability. Covered disabilities include:
Generally, under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJ LAD), an employer must be fair to all employees and applicants regardless of their actual or perceived disability. The NJ LAD prevents an employer from discriminating against a disabled employee and makes several discriminatory practices unlawful, including:
Despite the protections granted by the NJ LAD, there are several exceptions in which an employer can let an employee or applicant’s disability affect how he or she is treated. For instance, in cases where an applicant’s disability prevented him or her from performing the duties essential to the job, the employer can refuse to hire the applicant if they have taken steps to make sure there are no reasonable alternatives.
If you have become the victim of unlawful discrimination based on a disability, various remedies and relief may be available. An administrative remedy can be granted by the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR). A judicial remedy can be found through the New Jersey court system. Although both of these options may provide a discrimination victim with relief, one important difference between the two is that punitive damages are only available through a judicial remedy. In a lawsuit, a plaintiff with a valid and successful claim may also be entitled to job reinstatement with back pay and interest, damages for pain and emotional distress, and fees plus expenses associated with pursuing the remedy.
In order to prove discrimination under the NJ LAD, a plaintiff must first establish a prima facie case of discrimination. In other words, the employee must show that there is evidence that the court can use to make an inference that the employer has discriminated against him or her. Because direct proof of discrimination is often unavailable, circumstantial evidence may be used to develop a discrimination claim. Next, the employer will be given the opportunity to rebut this inference, but the employer must show that there is a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the conduct. If the employer is able to successfully rebut the discrimination claim, then the plaintiff must be able to show that the employer’s proof is only a “pretext” for the conduct and that the underlying motivation was discriminatory.
The NJ LAD protects employees from discrimination. The law is confusing, complex, and often has a legal standard not favorable to employees. If you feel that you have been the unlawful victim of discrimination relating to a disability, contact The Mark Law Firm, LLC’s employment practice. There may be a limited time in which you can bring a claim under the NJ LAD or any other applicable laws. Therefore, if you believe that you have become the victim of unlawful discrimination, it is crucial that you seek the advice of an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible in order to preserve your legal rights. Our firm has worked with victims of discrimination for over 15 years. Our firm is committed to clients. If you need our legal services, contact The Mark Law Firm, LLC.