State vs. Federal Agencies
If you’ve been discriminated against, your options include going to a Federal or a State agency. The Equal Opportunity Employment Council (EEOC) is the federal agency that handles discrimination claims. Employees can also bring claims in New Jersey. The claims before both are similar, but there are some differences. Our qualified discrimination lawyers can help you decide which forum (federal or New Jersey) is better. Some factors are:
- If the act of discrimination is prohibited
- Who qualifies as an employee or as an employer
- Whether punitive damages are allowed
- Whether jury trials are allowed if the the case goes to court.
New Jersey Discrimination Agency
The agency that handles New Jersey employment discrimination complaints is the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights. The Civil Rights Office is under the control of the New Jersey Attorney General Office. There are offices in Trenton, Camden, Atlantic City and Newark.
New Jersey Laws. These are the New Jersey state laws on discrimination:
- New Jersey Discrimination Law. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits employment discrimination (and other forms) in the following areas:
- Creed (religion)
- Disability (including AIDS and HIV infection),
- Genetic information or the refusal to submit to a genetic test or make available the results of a genetic test to an employer, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait
- Familial status
- Liability for military service
- Marital status
- Domestic partnership or civil union status
- Nationality or national origin
- Affectional or sexual orientation
- Gender identity or expression
- New Jersey Family Leave Act. The New Jersey Family Leave Act states when and how employees can take unpaid leave from work to care for a family member.
How is a state discrimination case handled?
The New Jersey State Division of Civil Rights handles your claim in the following way:
- Claims need to be brought within a specific time frame,
- The state agency will start an investigation to determine if there is probable cause to believe discrimination has occurred.
- If there is not probable cause, the agency will inform the employee that they can bring a lawsuit on their own.
- It there is probable cause, then the state agency will try to work a settlement (this is formally called a conciliation).
- If a settlement/conciliation can’t be worked out, then the case will be heard before an Administrative Law Judge.
- At any time, the employee can go directly to state court. But, if the claim goes to state court, then the claim before the state is agency is dismissed. Employees can’t have two claims going at one time.
What damages can the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights order? The director can order that the employer:
- Stop the unlawful conduct
- Hire, reinstate or promote the employee to a specific position
- Pay back wages and back benefits
- Pay for pain and humiliation
- Restore health and pension benefits
- Restore seniority rights
- Pay attorney’s fees
- Pay a penalty of $10,000 for a first offense, $25,000 for a second offense and $50,000 for a third offense.
How Begelman & Orlow, P. C. can help
You have the right to have a lawyer assist you at every stage of your claim including claims before the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights. A skilled discrimination lawyer can:
- Make sure you meet all your deadlines
- Make sure you are prepared for the agency investigation
- Make sure you have all the documents you need
- Argue the facts and the law
- Pursue your claim before the agency and in state court.
Our Firm’s Experience
The attorneys of Begelman & Orlow, P. C. have offices in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Contact our offices at 866-627-7052 or fill out our online form. We have 115 years combined experience protecting your rights and in all phases of employment law, including bringing discrimination claims in federal and New Jersey courts and before federal and New Jersey agencies.