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Weighing State and Federal Options in Job Discrimination Cases

Most people are aware that they have rights if they suffer discrimination at work or are victimized by a hostile work environment. However, many people do not understand the nuances of those rights. Federal and state laws work hand-in-hand to protect victims of discrimination. In most cases, workers can choose which process to use or even use both. In other cases, conduct outside the scope of one law may fall within the other. As attorneys, we help workers understand their options so they can fully assert their rights.

There are several key differences between your employment rights under state law and federal law:

  • Federal employment laws may not apply to some smaller employers.
  • New Jersey employment law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, domestic violence victim status and marital status, and federal law does not.
  • Both federal and state discrimination laws have their own bodies of interpretive case law that may dictate divergent results under some circumstances.
  • Federal and state discrimination laws may offer different remedies.
  • Federal law requires a complainant to use the administrative complaint process, while New Jersey law does not.

Federal and state remedies in employment discrimination matters are not mutually exclusive. Aggrieved employees can often assert their rights under both laws in federal court. By having an experienced workplace discrimination lawyer review your case early, you can form a strategy for effectively preserving and exercising your rights in the most beneficial forum.

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