Your Options for Filing a New Jersey Employment Discrimination Claim
Employees and job candidates in New Jersey and around the country have the right to be free from discrimination in the workplace. Despite state and federal laws that prohibit employers from treating people differently based on race, age, sex, religion, disability and other protected characteristics, the problem persists.
If you have been discriminated against at work or by a company you’ve applied or interviewed to work for, you may want to talk to a New Jersey employment lawyer about your legal options. There are several different avenues you could pursue, depending on the situation.
At the state level, you could file a complaint with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights or file an employment discrimination lawsuit in state court. If you choose the former, the agency will conduct an investigation. If they find reason to believe your employer discriminated against you, the agency could try to resolve it by conducting mediation, sending the case to an administrative law judge or using other dispute resolution methods. Alternatively, you could file a lawsuit in state court alleging that the company violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD).
You cannot file both in state court and in the NJ Division on Civil Rights at the same time. Claims with the Division on Civil Rights must be filed within 180 days of the act of discrimination, while you have up to two years to file in state court.
There are also federal options for discrimination victims. In the federal system, the first step is to file a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This must be done within 300 days of the act of discrimination. The EEOC will review the claim and can pursue options like mediation. If mediation fails, the EEOC assigns an investigator who, if he/she finds a legal violation, can attempt to settle with the company. The situation could also be referred to the EEOC’s legal teams to decide if the agency will sue the company on your behalf.
If the EEOC decides not to pursue action on your behalf, the agency will give you a Notice of Right to Sue letter. If this occurs, then you are free to file your own lawsuit in a federal court. You must file within 90 days of receiving the letter. Unlike state court, you cannot file a lawsuit in federal court until you have gone through the claims process with the EEOC.
The best way to decide which path is best for protecting your rights is to speak with an employment discrimination lawyer about the situation.
At Kevin T. Kutyla, Esq. in Succasunna, I have extensive experience helping clients who believe they have faced discrimination in the workplace protect their rights in both the state and federal systems. Please call me at 862-354-8931 or contact me online to schedule a confidential initial consultation.