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Filing a Discrimination Claim With the Division on Civil Rights vs. Going Straight to Court

Filing a Discrimination Claim With the Division on Civil Rights vs. Going Straight to Court

In New Jersey, an employee with a claim of discrimination has two options on how and where to pursue it. They can bring the matter to a state administrative body called the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) or they can go straight to court. Each option has advantages and disadvantages to be considered before proceeding.

The Division on Civil Rights enforces New Jersey’s civil rights laws, including the state Law Against Discrimination. An employee can file a complaint and submit available evidence to the DCR, which investigates the matter. The DCR issues a preliminary finding of whether there is probable cause that discrimination has occurred. If so, a deputy attorney general will bring the case in behalf of the claimant in an appropriate venue. The claimant has the option of being represented by their own lawyer. All remedies provided by law, including money damages, are available in cases brought by the DCR. If the claimant prevails, the victory is at very little personal expense.

The DCR option has procedural requirements and limitations. The claimant must file the complaint within 180 days or it cannot proceed. If the DCR makes a finding of no probable cause, the employee can appeal to the state Superior Court Appellate Division. Unless the DCR’s finding is overturned, the employee is completely barred from filing a discrimination case in court. In many instances, employment lawyers recommend avoiding DCR due to that risk.

The alternative procedure is to take the case directly to court. An advantage of going this route is that the employee has two full years from the date of the illegal conduct to bring the case. The employee usually hires his or her own lawyer, who may bring in other professionals to investigate the case. However, the expenses incurred may be considerable. On the other hand, the employee has much more control over the investigative process compared to a matter handled by DCR. A claimant who prevails may be able to recover his or her costs and attorneys’ fees.

Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in Hackensack is one of the leading pro-employee law firms in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. Our lawyers provide each client with the individual attention and devoted effort needed to successfully pursue complex employment cases. If you have a discrimination claim or other employment issue, contact us online or call 551-245-8894 for a consultation.

Neil  H.  Deutsch Attorney Photo
Neil H. Deutsch

Neil H. Deutsch has been practicing law for over 35 years and is known as a skilled negotiator in employment and discrimination law. He believes in a bottom-line approach of risk analysis and cost effectiveness for his clients. "Case evaluation is something we take seriously," says Mr. Deutsch who seeks top net dollar for his…

Bruce  L.  Atkins Attorney Photo
Bruce L. Atkins
Senior Partner

Bruce L. Atkins is the Senior Managing Partner at Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt P.C., a prominent plaintiff employment law firm in the tri-state area. Mr. Atkins believes employees’ rights should be aggressively pursued when they’ve been wrongfully dealt with by their employers. He brings this philosophy to his practice when considering each case and its…

Adam  J.  Kleinfeldt Attorney Photo
Adam J. Kleinfeldt

Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigation such as discrimination, retaliation and whistle blowing matters. He has extensive experience in all phases of the litigation process. Adam has obtained significant results for his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict in a sexual…

Debra M. McGarvey Attorney Photo
Debra M. McGarvey

Debra M. McGarvey joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in December 2019. She has extensive experience defending employees and employers in state and federal court in employment litigation matters. She has represented clients on various issues arising out of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), the…

Carly Skarbnik Meredith Attorney Photo
Carly Skarbnik Meredith

Carly Skarbnik Meredith, Esq. is a Partner at the firm. Carly has focused her career exclusively in the field of employment law. She has a plethora of experience representing both employees and employers with their employment issues, needs, and concerns. She believes representing both employees and employers has made her an extremely well-rounded client advocate.…


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