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New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD)

In the context of employment discrimination law, the federal statutes on the subject — the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, etc. — tend to get the most attention while the parallel state laws fall by the wayside. Employees in New Jersey, however, enjoy the protection of one of the most extensive employment discrimination laws in the country. The Law Against Discrimination (LAD) provides coverage and protection for New Jersey workers that in some areas goes far beyond what similar federal statutes provide.

The employment discrimination provisions of the LAD have several key distinctions from similar federal laws:

  • The LAD covers all employers regardless of company size. Similar federal laws only cover businesses with at least 15 regular employees (20 for age discrimination).
  • The LAD protects employees from all the same bases of discrimination and federal laws and additionally prohibits discrimination based on marital or domestic status, gender identity or expression, military service and affectional or sexual orientation.
  • The LAD allows complainants to proceed directly to New Jersey state court whereas federal laws require an administrative complaint to be filed with the EEOC first.

The Division on Civil Rights of New Jersey’s Office of Attorney General is responsible for administering and enforcing the provisions of the LAD. This office provides an administrative complaint procedure and may order an offending employer to improve conditions as well as pay damages for lost pay, pain and humiliation and attorney fees. Victims of discrimination have the option of using this procedure or proceeding directly to court to have their complaint evaluated by a jury.

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