The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) makes it unlawful to treat a person differently because of their race, religion, color, national origin, nationality, ancestry, age, sex, family status, domestic partnership, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic trait or information, military status, or disability. This applies inside or outside the workplace.
In addition, federal laws, including the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Equal Pay Act, also prohibit discrimination based on these characteristics.
In the workplace, these prohibitions extend to various areas of employment: hiring and firing, pay, promotions, transfers, recruitment, testing, benefits, training, leave, use of company facilities, and other areas.
Discrimination at work includes many forms:
- Age discrimination
- Associational discrimination
- Disability discrimination
- Equal pay violations
- Failure to reasonably accommodate
- Hostile work environment
- Marital status discrimination
- Pregnancy discrimination
- Race discrimination
- Retaliation for reporting discrimination
- Sex discrimination
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual orientation discrimination
If you feel you have been discriminated against at work, you have several options, including:
- Filing a complaint with a regulatory agency.
- Reporting the behavior internally and seeking reparations.
- Taking legal action if necessary.
- Working with your employer to change its policies and culture.
Legal action may be what it takes for some employers to realize their workplace is fraught with discriminatory people and practices.
Employer Responsibility for Workplace Discrimination
People’s livelihood and their ability to care for themselves and their families depend on steady employment. Discriminatory firing, being passed over for a promotion, unequal pay, demotions, and other adverse employment actions undermine a person’s right to lead a successful life.
Along the same lines, harassment in the workplace for no reason other than an employee’s religious leaning or how they look can have devastating financial and emotional consequences. Workplace discrimination, unfortunately, still exists in both the private and public sectors. So does retaliation for reporting discriminatory behavior.
Employers cannot use the excuse that they did not know workplace discrimination was illegal. The information is easily attainable, and every employer needs to know it and follow it. Some states even require employers to conduct antidiscrimination training at regular intervals.
Following are ways employers can stop workplace discrimination before it starts and make amends if they have been accused of workplace discrimination.
- Develop a written policy that defines procedures and rules. Many companies have outdated or missing antidiscrimination policies and procedures, leaving employees unaware that they have rights and responsibilities.
- Make it clear that there is zero tolerance for discrimination. Every employee, especially managers and supervisors, must understand there are consequences for discriminatory behaviors, and they will not be tolerated in any form.
- Educate all your workers about discrimination. Employees, especially supervisors and above, need to know what discrimination looks like in every aspect of employment: hiring, firing, promoting, demoting, paying, and so forth. Give supervisors and above additional training in soft skills. Formal training programs for every staff member should be an annual requirement and included in a new-hire orientation.
- Provide every staff member with a policies and procedure manual that includes how to report discrimination. Employers must give employees clear and easy-to-follow procedures for reporting discrimination and seeing the complaint through to resolution.
- Keep antidiscrimination messages in front of employees. Annual training is not enough to ensure that employees remember antidiscrimination policies and the company’s values. Keep the messages active through the company newsletter, intranet, visual aids such as posters and signs, and other internal communications.
- Establish and communicate a formal process for reporting and resolving discrimination issues. Make it easy and comfortable for employees to report their concerns and see them through to a conclusion. Never dismiss any discrimination complaint without investigating it, and always be consistent in addressing the issues. Consider having several channels for an employee to report discrimination.
- Take employee complaints seriously. Always document and investigate discrimination complaints. Make internal changes as necessary, including new policies and procedures and better awareness programs. Be sure to reprimand violators according to company procedures, including immediate firing due to your zero-tolerance policy.
- Reduce bias in hiring. Unconscious biases are stereotypes that we unintentionally cultivate. These biases can negatively affect diversity, recruiting, promotion, and retention efforts. Awareness training is the first step to solving unconscious bias in the workplace.
- Implement and communicate anti-retaliation procedures to show employees it is safe to report discrimination and let offenders know retaliation will not be tolerated.
The Marlton Employment Lawyers at Burnham Douglass Advocate for Victims of Discrimination in the Workplace
Workplace discrimination is illegal. If you are a victim of discrimination, let our Marlton employment lawyers at Burnham Douglass help you find justice. Call us today at 856-751-5505 to schedule a free consultation or contact us online. We have offices in Marlton and Northfield, New Jersey. We proudly serve clients in South Jersey, Camden County, Burlington County, Atlantic County, Gloucester County, and Mercer County.