The highest court in New Jersey has compared discrimination in our society to a cancer which must be aggressively cut out and prevented from spreading. One way New Jersey has dealt with the issue of discrimination is through the education of our youth in our public schools in the hopes that prejudice learned at home is eliminated through the cultural enlightenment of our impressionable children.
Another effective way New Jersey has dealt with discrimination is through the implementation and enforcement of one of the most powerful anti-discrimination laws in the nation, New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. Under this New Jersey law, it is unlawful for any employer, school, hospital, business, governmental agency, financial institution, landlord, seller of real estate, and place of public accommodation (hotel, motel, etc) to discriminate against any person on the basis of numerous protected classifications such as a person’s gender, race, country of origin, ethnic background, religion, marital status, age, physical or mental handicap, genetic, cellular or blood type and pregnancy.
New Jersey law protects all persons fitting within any protected classification from being terminated from or deprived of employment or a benefit or service because of discrimination. Additionally, the law prohibits discrimination as motivation for changing the terms or conditions of a person’s employment or of any service, benefit or right to which an employee is entitled.. One of the key provisions of the law enables everyone to be able to afford a lawyer to help them in discrimination claims as the Law Against Discrimination forces the company or person guilty of discrimination to pay the victim’s legal fees and expenses.
Some examples of widespread unlawful discrimination in the workplace can be seen in cases our law firm has handled. In one case, a young woman of Hispanic ethnicity was fired merely because she was pregnant. Although our client was physically able to perform all of the tasks required of her job and even had a letter from her doctor attesting to this fact, her company nevertheless fired her simply because of her pregnancy. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination clearly states that such action is illegal, therefore, the employer made an unwise decision in firing our client because the company will now have to pay many tens of thousands of dollars in litigation expenses to defend and ultimately settle our client’s claims.
In another case, our female clients were subjected to unwelcome touching and sexually explicit verbal comments by their male employer. On one occasion, the male employer even placed a nude photograph of himself on the office bulletin board so that his entire staff, all women, would have to see it while they worked. On another occasion, our client was humiliated when the male employer in question placed a small Christmas tree upon her desk, and, instead of holiday ornaments, the boss hung condoms on the tree. The boss continued to commit similar degrading and embarrassing acts upon his female staff on an almost a daily basis for several years until finally the female office workers decided they had enough and retained our law firm to help them. In the end, it was the boss who was humiliated as he and his insurance company were forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to compensate the women he had victimized for his own gratification.
In another example showing the extent to which people holding positions of authority will go to in order to victimize those people they mistakenly believe are powerless to defend themselves, a company’s president threatened to report our client, an illegal immigrant from a South American country, to the INS, unless she had sex with him after the other employees went home for the evening. This exploitation continued for months until our client became informed of her rights, retained our law firm’s services and we filed a lawsuit under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. During the litigation, it became clear that the boss exploited other female employees in the past, and, that the company failed to provide appropriate training and education to its managers and supervisors concerning unlawful discrimination in the workplace. As a result of the lawsuit, the boss who exploited our client was fired from his job, and, his company was forced to pay a large amount of compensation to our client.
Although there are many cases similar to the above examples, the sad fact remains that unlawful discrimination, especially in the workplace, is a daily occurrence. The common thread in the examples given above is that when some people believe they have authority over others by virtue of their high position with a company, these people believe they have the right to exploit or discriminate against their employees who do not possess the same authority within the company. The Law Against Discrimination, however, is the great equalizer! When victims of unlawful discrimination become educated about the law and understand that they no longer have to put up with discriminatory practices against them at work, they gain the ability to change things for the betterment of themselves and for all similarly victimized employees, and, in the process, obtain compensation for their damages. As the old saying goes, “Information is power.” It is clear that everyone in New Jersey who works hard just to feed, cloth and house their families needs to understand that when it comes to fighting discrimination, they are empowered with the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, legal protection too strong for any exploitive bigot to ever defeat.
If you believe that you or a loved one have been the victim of unlawful discrimination, you may wish to consult with an experienced attorney to discuss the situation and learn more about your rights and available remedies, especially since no article can serve as a substitute for the advice an experienced attorney can provide based on the merits and circumstances of an individual case. The bottom line: with the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination as a powerful ally, no one should ever put up with discrimination in the workplace.