- posted: Sep. 30, 2022
New Jersey Expands Protections Against Age Discrimination
New Jersey has long protected employees from unequal employment practices based solely on age. Yet until recently, the law fell short of making that protection a reality for many elderly workers, since the law only applied to employees between ages 40 and 70. Now, legislation has been enacted to rectify the shortcoming and expand the law’s coverage, reflecting a societal change that has people living longer and working later in life.
Previously, the state’s Law Against Discrimination contained these limitations:
- The prohibition against an employer failing to promote or hire an individual based on age did not apply to employees over 70 years old.
- If an employer did violate the law against age discrimination, the worker’s only remedy was filing a complaint with the state attorney general.
- The only relief available to the worker was job reinstatement with back pay and interest.
The amended law, which took effect in late 2021, removes the age-70 limit and allows employees claiming age discrimination to bring a lawsuit in court. That means that in addition to reinstatement and back pay, they can seek to recover compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorneys’ fees and costs of litigation.
Making a claim of age bias requires showing these elements:
- The employee is over 40 years of age.
- The employee suffered an adverse employment consequence, such as termination, reassignment to an inferior position or denial of a raise or promotion.
- There is a causal link between the action of the employer and the adverse consequence suffered.
- An individual hired or promoted for a similar position is younger than the plaintiff.
Once these initial elements are established, the employee has made out a prima facie case of age discrimination. The burden then shifts to the employer to explain why the actions were not biased. Often, the employer acknowledges the alleged facts but claims many factors went into the decision, none of which were age-related. Motives can be difficult to prove or disprove. A skilled New Jersey employment discrimination lawyer can gather and present circumstantial evidence , such as a pattern of adverse actions against older workers at the company.
If you believe you are a victim of age discrimination at work, the lawyers at Cashdan & Kane, PLLC can analyze your situation and help you pursue your remedies under federal and/or state law. Our main office is in Westfield and we have other offices in New Jersey to serve you. Contact us online or call 908-264-9331 to arrange an initial consultation.