New Jersey employers must follow federal and state workplace discrimination laws. While there is some overlap between the two, New Jersey's law applies to all employers and protects additional characteristics, such as sexual orientation and gender identity.
In all 50 states, federal law makes it illegal to discriminate based on:
In addition, New Jersey state law also prohibits discrimination based on:
Under federal law, companies with 15 or more employees are covered by Title VII, the primary law prohibiting employment discrimination, the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination based on genetic information. Companies with 20 or more employees are subject to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the federal law that prohibits discrimination against employees 40 years or older. Companies with four or more employees must comply with the employment discrimination provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of citizenship status. And all companies of any size must pay men and women equally for doing equal work, by virtue of the Equal Pay Act.
In New Jersey, companies with one or more employees are subject to the state's antidiscrimination law.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that regulates workplace discrimination. You can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by calling 800-669-4000 or check out its website at www.eeoc.gov. The website will help you locate an EEOC field office in New Jersey.
The Division on Civil Rights enforces state antidiscrimination law in New Jersey. You can contact the Division on Civil Rights at 973-648-2700 or go to its website.
Before filing a lawsuit based on an employer’s violation of Title VII, an employee must file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Employees may, but are not required to, file a charge of discrimination with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) for violations of state law. The deadline to file a charge with the EEOC is either 180 or 300 days, depending on the claims involved. The deadline for filing with the DCR is 180 days.
An employee who wants to file a Title VII lawsuit right away may ask the EEOC to issue a right-to-sue letter: a document stating that the employee has met the obligation to file an administrative charge with the agency. Employees have only 90 days to file a lawsuit once this letter is issued. And, a Title VII lawsuit must typically be filed within two years of the violation. The deadline for filing a lawsuit for violations of state law is also two years from the discriminatory act.
Employees can seek monetary compensation (called "damages") from their employers for violations of antidiscrimination laws. While fired employees can also ask to be reinstated to their jobs, courts are often reluctant to do this. Once a lawsuit has been filed, the working relationship between the employer and employee is often beyond repair.
The exact amount and types of damages an employee can request depends on the type of claim. However, the following are common damages employees can receive:
For violations of Title VII, there is a cap on how much employees can be awarded in damages for emotional distress, out-of-pocket expenses, and punitive damages. The combined cap for these damages is between $50,000 and $300,000, depending on the size of the employer. There is no such cap on damages for back pay, front pay, and attorneys' fees and costs. New Jersey does not cap the total amount of damages that employees can receive for pain and suffering and punitive damages.