New Jersey Expands Law Against Discrimination to Address Age Discrimination

HNW Employment Law

employment age discrimination in NJWhat You Should Know

  • New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) has been expanded to address age discrimination against employees
  • Government and state employers no longer have the authority to enforce mandatory retirement for their employees at a certain age
  • New Jersey employers can no longer refuse to hire or promote any individual solely on the basis of them reaching age 70 or older
  • The expanded NJLAD broadens the remedies that employees can pursue to obtain relief if they are victims of age discrimination
  • Institutions of higher education in New Jersey are no longer permitted to require tenured employees at colleges and universities to retire at the age of 70

What Does the New Age Discrimination Law Prohibit?

NJ has enacted a new law that expands the scope of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) to address age discrimination.  The goal of the law is to protect employees who “might otherwise be forced into retirement before they are ready.”  The law includes provisions that protect against age discrimination “hurts the employees who are being discriminated against, as well as the employer itself.”

Changes in the Law Against Age Discrimination

As an overview, the NJLAD prohibits discrimination and harassment based on actual or perceived race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, and other protected characteristics, including age.  The new law amends the statute to extend protections against age discrimination.

The end to the government’s authority to force employees to retire at arbitrarily defined ages will also affect how the state of New Jersey organizes its own workforce.  State employers will now be required to grant employees the chance to work later in their careers as long as they can adequately perform their official responsibilities.  Significantly, state employers must be sure that age is not part of its evaluation criteria when reviewing employees’ performance(s) so as to avoid any possible inference that it is participating in age discrimination when deciding to terminate an employee or limit an employee’s work hours.

The law prohibits employers from refusing to “hire persons for the sole reason of being more than 70 years old.”  New Jersey residents will now be able to seek employment after turning 70 years old, which is significant as data indicates that New Jersey employees now work later into their lives.  Employers should be careful not to view a prospective employee’s age as a disqualifier or even a relevant factor when determining whether to extend offers of employment.

NJLAD has been amended to include that employees now have the ability to obtain “all of the remedies provided by any applicable law” rather than merely “back pay and interest.”  Employers are now subject to greater exposure in the event that they do impose a requirement that employees retire because of their age.

What Should Employers Do?

In light of the newly enacted provisions of the NJLAD and its impact on potential employer liability, it is imperative that both public and private sector employers review their hiring, promotion and retirement policies and practices to ensure that they do not contain impermissible criteria tied to age.

To discuss your NJ employment law matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing or telephone consultations if you are unable to come to our office.

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold Township, Monmouth County, NJ Employment Law Attorney

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