New Jersey Sexual Orientation Discrimination
In New Jersey, it is unlawful for your employer to discriminate against you due to your sexual orientation. Discrimination can include any adverse employment action including termination, layoffs, demotion, failure to hire, and harassment. For example, your sexual orientation should not be a factor in whether you receive a bonus or whether you get a bigger raise. An employer cannot refuse to hire a worker because he or she is gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Likewise your gender identity or expression as a transgender or transsexual person cannot be the basis of employment decisions. At Phillips & Associates, our New Jersey employment discrimination attorneys help employees recover damages for sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace.New Jersey Law Prohibits Sexual Orientation Discrimination
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Although federal law doesn't provide an explicit prohibition against sexual orientation discrimination, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and several courts have ruled that sexual orientation discrimination is a part of sex and gender discrimination under Title VII.
The Law Against Discrimination only protects employees, not independent contractors. However, the court evaluates the facts to determine whether someone is truly an independent contractor or an employee. Sometimes employers misclassify their workers, either inadvertently or intentionally to avoid certain laws, such as anti-discrimination laws and laws related to fair wages and workers' compensation that apply only to employees.
The law against sexual orientation discrimination can be applied equally to men, women, and transgender employees. Sexual orientations can include heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality. The sexual orientation of a transgender person, or person with a nonconforming gender identity or expression is also protected. Gender identity or gender expression is a separate protected category, and in some cases discrimination against an individual may be violate prohibitions against both sexual orientation discrimination and gender identity discrimination. The laws protect even perceived sexual orientation, so you are protected even if your actual sexual orientation does not match that for which you are being discriminated.Workplace Harassment of LGBT Individuals is Prohibited
Gay, lesbian, and bisexual employees may face hostile work environment in addition to other forms of discrimination. Hostile work environment is a form of sexual harassment made up of actions, gestures or words that would make the environment hostile or offensive to a reasonable employee of the same sexual orientation. For example, if your supervisor uses homophobic slurs on a regular basis while talking to you, this may be considered hostile work environment. Similarly, if a coworker sends you pornographic pictures every week to taunt you about your sexual orientation, and your manager does nothing about it when you tell her, this may be a hostile work environment.You May Be Entitled to Damages for Sexual Orientation Discrimination
Both the employer and an individual supervisor can be held liable for sexual orientation discrimination. Damages that may be recovered from an employer include back pay, front pay, compensatory damages for emotional distress or humiliation, punitive damages, and interest on lost wages. Different time limitations apply to your claim, depending on if you file a federal or state claim. In New Jersey, you can bring a lawsuit in court within 2 years from the date of the discrimination.Reach Out to New Jersey Sex Discrimination Attorneys
Your employer is not entitled to single you out because of your sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. The New Jersey employment discrimination lawyers of Phillips & Associates may be able to file a lawsuit to help you recover damages. Contact us at (609) 436-9087 or through our online system. We help clients in Passaic, Essex, Union, Bergen, Morris, Hudson, Somerset, Middlesex, Monmouth, Mercer, Burlington, and Camden Counties.
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