New Jersey Expands Anti-Discrimination Law to Fight Age Discrimination | Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis LLP

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What you should know:

  • New Jersey Anti-Discrimination Act (NJLAD) expanded to address age discrimination against employees
  • The New Jersey government or state employers no longer have the power to force mandatory retirement of their employees at a certain age
  • New Jersey employers can no longer refuse to hire or promote someone just on the basis that they are 70 or older.
  • Expanded NJLAD Expands Remedies Employees Can Seek Redress If They Are Faced With Age Discrimination
  • New Jersey higher education institutions are no longer allowed to require full college and university employees to retire at age 70.

On October 5, 2021, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy enacted new legislation that expands the reach of the New Jersey Anti-Discrimination Act (NJLAD) to address age discrimination in the state . Senator Shirley Turner, a major sponsor of Assembly Bill A681, said the goal of expanding protections against age discrimination is to protect employees who “might otherwise be forced to retire before they are ready ”. The bill, which was unanimously approved by the Senate and Assembly of the State of New Jersey, includes four provisions that protect against age discrimination and are consistent with the governor’s purpose Murphy to ban ageism that “hurts discriminated against employees, as well as the organization.” himself.

Amendments to the law

NJLAD prohibits discrimination and harassment based on race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability and other protected characteristics, including age, real or perceived. The new law amends the law to expand protections against age discrimination.

First, A681 repeals the legal provision allowing government employers to force employees to retire at certain ages if the employer can show “that the retirement age has a clear connection with the job in question.”[.]This relinquishment of government authority to force employees to retire at certain arbitrarily defined ages will affect the way New Jersey organizes its own workforce. Public employers will now be required to grant employees the opportunity to work later in their careers as long as they can properly carry out their official responsibilities. Significantly, public employers should ensure that age is not part of their evaluation criteria when reviewing employee performance in order to avoid any possible inference that it participates in discrimination based on age when deciding whether to fire an employee or limit an employee’s working hours.

In addition, the new law removes the provision in Article 11 of the NJLAD which states that “nothing herein shall be construed as preventing an employer from refusing to accept employment or from promoting a person over the age of 70. “. The intended effect of deleting this wording is to prohibit employers from refusing “to hire people on the sole ground that they are over 70”. Residents of New Jersey will now be able to seek employment after reaching the age of 70, which is important because data shows that employees in New Jersey are now working later in life. Employers should be careful not to view the age of a potential employee as a disqualifying factor or even a relevant factor in determining whether to extend job postings.

Then, section 5 of the NJLAD was amended to include that “in a claim of being unlawfully compelled to retire on account of his age, an employee has all the remedies provided by any applicable law, instead of , as this article currently provides, being limited to filing a complaint with the Attorney General and having compensation limited to reinstatement with arrears of salary and interest. The amendment to article 5 is important because it imposes a broader system by which employees can obtain redress if they are victims of discrimination on the basis of age. Employees now have the option of obtaining “all remedies provided for by any applicable law” rather than simply “arrears of wages and interest”. Employers are now subject to greater exposure in the event that they impose a requirement that employees retire because of their age.

Finally, due to the repeal of Article 4 of the NJLAD, higher education institutions will no longer be allowed to require permanent employees of colleges and universities to retire at the age of 70. now subject to the same prohibitions on using age as a factor to force employee retirement. Higher education institutions, like other employers, should consider themselves to be subject to increased exposure if they force employees to retire based on their age.

Next steps

In light of the new anti-ageism provisions of the NJLAD and their significant impact on potential employer liability, it is imperative that public and private sector employers review their hiring, promotion and employment policies and practices. pension to ensure that they do not contain age-related criteria.

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