We Handle the Full Range of Employment Discrimination in New Jersey
Everyone deserves fair and equal employment opportunities—free from preconceived stereotypes and other forms of discrimination or harassment. While our society has come a long way, more still needs to be done. Make no mistake: despite our progress, discrimination still exists in the workplace, in myriad forms. You may experience it yourself if you are:
- The longtime, sixty-five-year-old employee who suddenly finds himself “laid off” and replaced with a much younger worker;
- The female worker who begins receiving negative evaluations, and is summarily terminated, shortly after announcing her pregnancy to her boss; or
- The African-American employee who is repeatedly passed over for promotion in favor of similarly-situated or less-qualified Caucasian employees
At Zatuchni & Associates, our New Jersey employment law attorneys aggressively pursue action against employers who engage in this type of workplace discrimination. If you were victim of discrimination, we are more than ready to help. Contact our firm today to set up a free, strictly confidential case evaluation with an experienced New Jersey employment discrimination attorney.
Know Your Rights: State and Federal Laws Protect You Against Many Forms of Discrimination
To protect the legal rights of employees, we use an arsenal of state and federal anti-discrimination law. In particular, we frequently rely upon the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (the “NJLAD”), which prohibits employers from discriminating against workers in any job-related action, from hiring to firing, based on a workers’ membership in certain protected categories. Additionally, our law firm brings claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which is the primary federal anti-discrimination law. These laws protect a number of different personal characteristics, including:
- National origin;
- Disability, including HIV/AIDS infected status;
- Sexual Orientation or perceived sexual orientation;
- Transgendered status; and
- Military service
Structure of a Discrimination Claim
To prevail on a discrimination claim, workers must pass several evidentiary hurdles built into the law. The requirements of these hurdles vary depending upon the type of discrimination at issue. Generally speaking, as a discrimination plaintiff, you must prove:
- That you were performing your job satisfactorily and meeting your employer’s legitimate expectations; and
- That you were singled out and subjected to an adverse employment action (like termination), solely based on your membership in a protected category (race, age, etc.). In other words, you have to show that your employer acted against you with discriminatory intent.
Discriminatory intent may be shown directly, such as when an employee is subjected to racial slurs or sexually offensive comments in the workplace. It may also be shown indirectly, via circumstantial evidence. For instance, an employee claiming age discrimination might show that all workers over fifty were targeted for termination, whereas younger workers were not.
Zatuchni & Associates specializes in discrimination claims across all protected categories. We’ve helped countless clients who have suffered workplace bias secure financial and legal compensation from their employers. If you believe you’re a victim of unlawful discrimination, we would be happy to give you a free telephone consultation. Call us today.
What Can I Recover in a Workplace Discrimination Case?
If you are considering filing an employment discrimination lawsuit in New Jersey, you may be wondering: What compensation is available? The answer always depends on the specific circumstances of the case. If you can prove that unlawful discrimination occurred, then you are generally entitled to relief that accounts for your damages. You may be able to get:
- Compensation for lost wages, including back pay and loss of benefits;
- Compensation for related damages, potentially including emotional distress; and
- Coverage for attorneys’ fees and other legal costs.
The strength of your case matters. An employer will not begin to start offering a fair settlement amount unless you can clearly demonstrate that discrimination occurred and you are prepared to hold them accountable in court. Our New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer can help you craft a compelling, well-supported discrimination claim.
How Specific Do you Need to Be in an Employer Discrimination Claim?
If you find yourself being discriminated against or harassed at work, your first line of defense is to report it in writing – to your direct supervisor, to HR, or (preferably) to both. But if you work in New Jersey, how specific do you need to be? Do you need to furnish a list of every nasty comment your supervisor ever made towards you, complete with dates, times, and witnesses? Should you attach a memo explaining why the low scores you received on your latest performance review were actually due to your manager’s age bias?
My advice, after decades of practice, is that you don’t have to delve into copious detail when making a written complaint to your employer. Instead, your written complaint should simply contain enough detail to:
- Put your employer on notice that you believe you are being unlawfully discriminated against and/or harassed based on your protected status; and
- Show your employer that your belief you are being unlawfully discriminated against and/or harassed is genuine and in good faith.
Let’s take a quick look at each of these requirements in turn.
1. Notice – or, Use the Legal Terms!
The most important purpose of a written complaint is to alert your employer that you believe the complained-of conduct is not just hurtful, or unprofessional, but illegal, because it is due to your race, gender, age, or other protected status.
This is critical if you want to protect yourself against being fired, taken off the schedule, demoted, or otherwise punished for your complaint. If you have given your employer a written heads-up that you think you are being subjected to unlawful discrimination/harassment, and your employer still takes action against you for complaining, then you may sue your employer for retaliation under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (the “LAD”). On the other hand, if your complaint is too vague or general, you will have a difficult time proving retaliation and may not be able to support a claim under the LAD should the worst happen.
As such, when writing your complaint,
DON’T couch things in ambiguity. “My manager is treating me unfairly compared to the other people on my team” doesn’t cut it. Neither does: “Supervisor X continues to keep me off the schedule, even though I am available and have asked to work.” By themselves, these statements are open to interpretation and could easily be the complaints of disgruntled or under-performing employees as opposed to victims of illegal discrimination/harassment.
DO include a brief, clear statement that you believe you are being subjected to unlawful discrimination or unlawful harassment because of your race, gender, age, pregnancy, or other protected status. Make it explicit that you think a legal violation is occurring, not just a moral or ethical one, and for a prohibited reason. It can be as simple a statement as: “I believe my supervisor is subjecting me to unlawful discrimination based on my pregnancy.” Short and sweet, but the words are unmistakable and impossible to misread. More importantly, they trigger your employer’s duty to investigate your complaint with all seriousness and give you legal protection against retaliation.
2. Genuine, Good Faith Belief
You don’t need to be an attorney with knowledge of all the legal nuances of the LAD in order to complain to your employer about discrimination/harassment. You should, however, supply examples to show that you have a good-faith basis for believing that discrimination/harassment is occurring because of your membership in a protected class.
For that reason, your written complaint should “connect the dots” between the complained-of employer activity and your protected status. Granted, some conduct is so egregious as to be illegal on its face – e.g., being called a racial slur by the boss. Other conduct needs supporting detail, often found through comparison to other employees. In my example above, “My manager treats me unfairly compared to other people on my team,” is weak evidence of good faith. A much stronger statement is: “My manager gives all the new sales leads to the other members of my team, who are all in their twenties. I’m in my late fifties, and he only gives me the dead-ends.”
I consult with many would-be clients seeking representation in post-termination retaliation cases under the LAD. Many of them submitted complaints to their employers that did not make it unequivocally clear that they were complaining about unlawful discrimination/harassment. When questioned, these would-be clients often tell me they chose to use more general verbiage because they were afraid of losing their job. Unfortunately, this resulted in complaints that sounded more like personality conflicts, rather than instances of discrimination/harassment. Ironically, the vagueness they thought would save their job allowed them to be fired.
The decision to formally complain to your employer is risky and should not be taken lightly. However, if you choose to complain, do it in a way that affords you the greatest protection under the LAD. If you would like some guidance on the issue, call our offices today for a free consultation.
You Have the Right to Report Discrimination or File a Complaint
In some cases, employees do not want to report employment discrimination for the fear that it will make things worse. While it is an understandable concern, it is important to emphasize that you have a legal right to report discrimination within the company and to file a discrimination claim. New Jersey employers are strictly prohibited from taking any adverse action against an employee who exercises their rights, including their right to fight back against discrimination.
If you were punished for reporting discrimination, you may have been the victim of unlawful retaliation. Retaliation can come in many forms, including demotion, denial of a promotion, harassment, or wrongful termination. If you were punished for reporting any type of employment discrimination, call a New Jersey retaliation lawyer for immediate assistance.
How New Jersey Employment Discrimination Lawyer David Zatuchni Can Help
Workplace discrimination cases are notoriously complex. If you have questions about your rights or what you need to do to prove discrimination, you are not alone. As a New Jersey employment lawyer with more than 25 years of experience, David Zatuchni has a deep understanding of state and federal discrimination laws. We are ready to get started on your case right away. Among other things, our New Jersey workplace discrimination attorney will:
- Hear your story and answer your legal question;
- Provide a step-by-step explanation of what you need to do next;
- Investigate your claim—gathering information and evidence; and
- Devise a personalized legal strategy focused on getting you the best results.
Discrimination in the workplace is terrible. It can cause serious damage to your career and your mental well-being. When we take on an employment law claim, our focus is on getting justice and accountability for clients. With a proven record of successful settlements and verdicts in workplace discrimination claims, you can trust our New Jersey employment law to handle your case properly.
Contact Our New Jersey Workplace Discrimination Attorneys Today
At Zatuchni & Associates, our New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer is focused on protecting the rights and interests of workers. If you suffered unfair treatment in the workplace, we are here to help. Contact us now for a free, no-obligation initial consultation. With offices in Lambertville and Morristown, we represent workers in discrimination claims throughout the State of New Jersey.