New Jersey Family Status Discrimination
In the past, employers felt comfortable asking about their employees’ family status as an unfair means of gauging how committed the employee was to the job. It might be assumed, for example, that a woman with children would be more committed to her children than a woman with no children, or that a man with a family would be more inclined to need the job than a bachelor would. These stereotypes and assumptions were not necessarily true or accurate, and could harm job applicants and employees. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees based on family status. No federal law provides a comparable protection. If you feel that you have been treated differently due to your family status, contact our New Jersey employment discrimination lawyers to see what options are available to you.Family Status Discrimination in New Jersey Workplaces
Family status discrimination includes any adverse and disparate action against employees based on their responsibilities to care for family members. This can include discrimination against mothers, discrimination against fathers involved in childrearing, discrimination against workers with disabled spouses or aging parents, and pregnancy discrimination. Here are a few examples of family status discrimination:
- Your boss tells you that you're not being promoted because you have children
- You are fired while you are on paternity leave because your employer didn't believe you would really take the leave and inferred you were not committed to the job
- Unmarried coworkers with fewer qualifications are promoted ahead of you because you are married
- You earn less than single, childless coworkers because your boss believes you prioritize your children over your job
New Jersey employers can't treat employees differently based on their assumptions about what a particular family status means. They also cannot discriminate against employees because they do not fall within a particular protected category. Discrimination can include any adverse employment action against an employee, including failure to hire, demotion, lack of promotion, termination, firing, and layoffs.Limited Applicability of FMLA
Federal law does not have an explicit equivalent protection, so in most cases, you are best off suing under the New Jersey law or filing an administrative complaint. Unlike with federal laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) such as Title VII, there is no administrative prerequisite to filing a lawsuit under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. However, family caregiving is protected if your employer is bound by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA permits eligible workers to take unpaid, job protected leave for certain medical and family reasons, including adoption and caring for sick family members. FMLA applies to private sector employers that have at least 50 employees in at least 20 workweeks in the current or prior year. It also applies to all public agencies and local education agencies.
If, for example, you are terminated and you believe it's because you took an FMLA-mandated leave, you can sue under federal law. However, the New Jersey law provides protection to employees working for much smaller employers, and so it is often a better choice for a broader range of workers discriminated against due to family status, or retaliated against for bringing a discrimination claim.Consult New Jersey Employment Discrimination Attorneys
Your New Jersey employer is not permitted to treat you differently from other employees based on whether or not you have a family, and whether you have to take care of them. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination also prohibits marital status discrimination. If you have been the victim of family status discrimination, the New Jersey employment discrimination lawyers of Phillips & Associates can provide knowledgeable, aggressive representation. Call us at (609) 436-9087 or through our online system. We help clients in Passaic, Bergen, Morris, Essex, Union, Hudson, Somerset, Middlesex, Monmouth, Mercer, Burlington, and Camden Counties.
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