NJ Employment Discrimination Laws
New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The LAD uses a broad definition when determining whether an individual has a disability. A disability can be physical, like an infirmity, congenital disability, disfigurement (including those caused by an injury), and even a chronic illness. New Jersey also defines a disability as a mental affliction that affects a person’s ability to perform certain physical or mental functions.
The LAD does not only prohibit discrimination for disabilities that you currently have, but also:
- A disability that another person thinks you have
- A disability that you previously had, or another person believes you previously had
- A disability that you may suffer from in the future
As mentioned above, an individual’s disability cannot be used to determine their eligibility for employment. As long as you meet the qualifications for the position and you can complete all the job’s functions, your disability may not be used against you. Additionally, you cannot be denied access to apprenticeships and training programs solely because of your disability.
Under the LAD, if you have a disability, an employer must provide you with any reasonable accommodations necessary to apply, interview, and complete any examinations needed for the position. However, if the employer can show that these accommodations would cause them “undue hardship” they are not obligated to provide them for a disabled applicant. Undue hardship can include financial or other reasons, such as being unable to install an elevator in a building.
If you apply for a job, the employer cannot ask you to receive a medical examination until they offer you a position at their company. However, if the position requires every applicant to receive a medical examination, then it is not disability discrimination. To prove that you were discriminated against, an employer must single you out from a group of applicants because of your disability.
There are certain circumstances where an employer may have a legitimate claim that you cannot perform the essential functions needed for the position you applied for. For example, if you cannot drive but apply for a position that requires a significant amount of driving, an employer can claim you do not meet the requirements for the position.
Once you are hired, several situations can trigger a disability discrimination case. These situations may include the following:
- Your employer giving you unwanted job assignments because of your disability
- Your employer using your disability to discharge you from your position or include you in company layoffs
- Your employer making, or allowing your coworkers to make, derogatory statements regarding your disability
The LAD will generally apply even if a disability arises after you have started working. If you wish to know more about New Jersey’s workplace discrimination laws, you should speak with an experienced New Jersey disability discrimination attorney as soon as possible.