What Rights Do I Have In A Sexual Orientation Case?
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Sexual Orientation is not one of the protected classes pursuant to federal
law. However, if an employee falls victim to discrimination, sexual harassment
and/or retaliation, and as horrible and depressing that employee may feel
as a result, the employee will have one thing to smile about if the discrimination
or sexual harassment occurred when the employee is employed in New Jersey.
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) is considered one of the
most aggressive anti-discrimination statutes in the country.
Courts in New Jersey continually recognize that the New Jersey Legislature
enacted this statute for the specific purpose of eradicating the cancer
of discrimination in the workplace. The LAD is considered such a powerful
statute that attorneys in New Jersey do not even consider filing a complaint
in federal court. In fact, legal scholars in New Jersey consider the filing
of a discrimination lawsuit in a New Jersey federal court legal malpractice.
Filing a LAD claim in a New Jersey State court is generally the best option.
For this reason, the EEOC is New Jersey is generally not utilized.
In essence, with respect to the three major federal anti-discrimination
statutes: Title VII, the ADEA and the ADAAA (formerly known as the ADA),
consider all of them combined, with no minimum number of employees and
no cap on punitive and compensatory damages. That, in essence, is the
LAD. So long as a New Jersey employee files a lawsuit in a New Jersey
State court within two years of the discrimination, harassment or retaliation
by the employer, the employee can take full advantage of all of the benefits
which the LAD has to offer.
The protections available under the LAD are also much more expansive than
those offered pursuant to the federal laws. Pursuant to Title VII, the
ADEA and the ADAAA (formerly known as the ADA), the following is protected:
race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age and disability. The LAD
offers protection for each of those protected classes and also protects
against discrimination based on numerous protected classes, such as ancestry,
sexual orientation, services in the armed forces, atypical hereditary
cellular or blood trait, marital status, domestic partnership status and
civil union status.