New Jersey and federal laws prohibit discrimination based on religion in many different contexts, including employment, housing, and places of public accommodation. In a New Jersey employment setting, religious discrimination is governed by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJ LAD). The NJ LAD covers employment actions that may arise anytime between when a worker applies to a job to the conclusion of employment. If the hiring and firing practices, the determination of wages and benefits, the way in which an employee’s work is appraised, and any other questionable conduct that occurs during the course of a worker’s employment is deemed to be discriminatory, it may create a cause of action under the NJ LAD. These protections extend not only when an employee becomes the victim of discrimination due to his or her actual religion, but also if the discrimination is based on the employee’s perceived religion.
Under the New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, religious discrimination can occur in a variety of circumstances. Specifically, employers are prohibited by the NJ LAD from using religion as a determinative factor when evaluating a candidate for a job opportunity, a promotion, a training program, or access to other work-related benefits, including wages, healthcare, or paid time off. Employers are also prohibited from asking an employee for specific details about his religion or worship practices. Additionally, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s request for time off due to religious observances. Labor unions are also prohibited from using religion as a factor when assessing an applicant for membership, when determining accessibility to union benefits, or when providing union services.
In order to prove discrimination under the NJ LAD, a plaintiff must first establish a prima facie case of discrimination. You must establish convincing evidence that the court can use to make the inference that discrimination has occurred because of religion. This evidence is typically based on a comparison of how the employer treats employees of other religions. Although a plaintiff must show evidence that religion played a role in the employer’s decision-making, he or she is not required to establish that religion was the only factor. Next, the employer will be given the opportunity to rebut this inference. 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, 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.
If you are the victim of religious discrimination, the NJ LAD is here to protect your rights. If you need to hold an offender accountable at the state level, you have the right to file a complaint with the Division of Civil Rights (DCR). The NJ LAD protects people in businesses of all sizes. If filing a complaint does not put an end to the discrimination or if the employee has already been terminated, additional steps can be taken by seeking a judicial remedy. In a lawsuit, a successful plaintiff may 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.
The Mark Law Firm, LLC has years of experience working with victims of discrimination. Our firm has sought justice for a variety of discrimination cases. Don’t allow offensive behavior or illegal actions to affect your employment. The laws of New Jersey are on your side and The Mark Law Firm, LLC is here to serve your interests. If you need our quality legal services, contact our firm today.