Mark Law Firm Blog

What is Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace?

Posted by Jamison Mark on May 13, 2014 11:06:00 AM
New Jersey Attorneys

Unfortunately, even in today's world there are still people who don't understand that you cannot treat person illegally just because of their age, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation. Some people truly believe that they are above the law, and that they cannot be touched. If you have been treated unfairly at work due to your age, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation, you may have a cause of action against your employer.

Specifically, there are many types of laws created to protect employee who are the subject of work related discrimination. Many but not all are listed below:

  • (a) New Jersey Law Against Discrimination:, NJSA 10:5-1, et seq
  • (b) Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:
  • (c) Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 USC 12101
  • (d) Age discrimination employment act
  • (e) Federal Family Medical Leave Act
  • (f) the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act, N.J.S.A. 34:19-1, et seq.;
  • (g) The New Jersey Family and Medical Leave Act, N.J.S.A. 34:11B-1, et seq.;
  • (h) The New Jersey Civil Rights Act, N.J.S.A. 10:6-1 et seq.;
  • (i) The New Jersey Civil Service Act, N.J.S.A. 11A:1-1 et seq.;
  • (j) The New Jersey Tort Clams Act, N.J.S.A. 59:1-1 et seq.;
  • (k) Wage & Hour Act & Prevailing Wage N.J.S.A. 40:37A-55.2

At the Law Office of Mark Law Firm we protect employees against employers who violate these acts, as well as many others. We are here to protect you and make sure you are treated with the dignity and respect you deserve. Please contact us to discuss your discrimination or harassment issue at 908-626-1001 or 973-440-2311.

How do we prove our case:

The LAD prohibits an employer from discriminating in the hiring, discharge or terms and conditions of employment based on race and national origin. N.J.S.A. 10:5-4; 10:5- 12(a). An employee may attempt to prove discrimination by either direct evidence or circumstantial evidence. To prevail in a direct evidence case, the complainant must present evidence which, if true, demonstrates "not only a hostility towards members of the employee's class, but also a direct causal connection between that hostility and the challenged employment decision." Ibid.

Because direct evidence of intentional discrimination is rarely available to victims of discrimination, the courts have developed an alternative test for evaluating circumstantial evidence of discrimination claims. As a starting point for analyzing LAD cases relying on circumstantial evidence, the New Jersey courts have adopted a methodology established by the United States Supreme Court in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973), and Texas Department of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248 (1981), Clowes v. Terminix International, Inc., 109 N.J. 575, 595 (1988). This methodology involves a burden-shifting analysis, with a complainant first bearing the burden of establishing a prima facie case. McDonnell Douglas v. Green, supra, 411 U.S. at 802.

To establish a prima facie case of discriminatory failure to hire, a complainant must demonstrate that he is a member of a protected class, that he was qualified for the position sought, that he was rejected despite his qualifications, and the employer continued to seek applicants of similar qualifications for the vacancy after rejecting him. Anderson v. Exxon, 89 N.J. 483, 492 (1982). Once a complainant has established a prima case of unlawful discrimination, he or she has created a presumption that discrimination has occurred. The burden of production, but not the burden of persuasion, then shifts to the respondent to articulate some legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the adverse action. Texas Dep't of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 253-54 (1981); see, Andersen v. Exxon Co., 89 N.J. 483, 493 (1982). The respondent need not persuade the court that he or she was actually motivated by the proffered reasons; it is sufficient if the respondent raises a genuine issue of fact as to whether he or she discriminated against the complainant. Texas Dep't of Community Affairs v. Burdine, supra, 450 U.S. at 255. To accomplish this, the respondent must introduce admissible evidence of a non-discriminatory reason for the adverse action. Ibid. If the respondent meets this burden of production, the presumption of discrimination raised by the complainant's prima facie case is rebutted. Upon rebuttal of a prima facie case, the complainant is afforded a fair "opportunity to prove by a preponderance of the evidence" that the respondent's articulated reasons for its action were pretextual and that the employer's true motivation and intent were discriminatory. Goodman v. London Metals Exch. Inc., 6 N.J. 19, 32 (1981). Pretext may be established either directly, by showing that the employer was more likely than not motivated by a discriminatory reason, or indirectly, by showing that the employer's proffered explanation is unworthy of credence. Texas Dep't of Community Affairs v. Burdine, supra, 450 U.S. at 256. To prevail, a complainant is not required to prove that the respondent was motivated solely by a discriminatory purpose. Slohoda v. United Parcel Services, Inc., 207 N.J. Super. 145, 155 (App. Div. 1986)(citations omitted). "It is sufficient if, taken with other possibly meritorious reasons, the discriminatory purpose was 'a determinative factor'" in the employer's decision. Ibid.

 

If you want to talk to a lawyer, contact us today! The Mark Law Firm, Newark, NJ. 

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Topics: Discrimination & Harassment