New Jersey has an extremely broad anti-discrimination law, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”). The LAD became even broader last Tuesday, October 5, 2021, when Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a new amendment that increases the statute’s protections against age discrimination by removing several loop holes and exceptions.
More specifically, the amendment makes four changes to the LAD:
Employers Can No Longer Refuse to Hire or Promote Employees Over 70 Years Old
Perhaps the most important change made by the amendment is that it deletes a provision which had permitted employers to refuse to hire a new employee, or promote a current employee, because he or she is over 70 years old. The statute now prohibits employers from using age as a factor when making any hiring or promotional decisions irrespective of whether or not the employee is over 70 years old.
New Limits on Mandatory Retirement Ages for Government Employees
In addition, the amendment removed a provision that permitted most government employers to require employees to retire if “the retirement age bears a manifest relationship to the employment in question.” Now, mandatory retirement is permissible only if the employee is unable to “adequately perform” his or her job duties. However, this change does not impact mandatory retirement for New Jersey judges, police officers and firefighters, for whom separate mandatory retirement age rules still apply.
New Limits on Mandatory Retirement Ages for Tenured Employees
Similarly, the amendment deleted a provision that permitted public employers from including a mandatory retirement age in a tenure contract, or a similar arrangement relating to tenure, if the “retirement age bears a manifest relationship to the employment in question.” Going forward, mandatory retirement provisions for tenured state, county and municipal employees are permissibly only if the employee is unable to adequately perform his or her job duties.
Broader Remedies for Victims of Forced Retirements Due to Age
Finally, the amendment removed limitations that previously required an employee who was forced to retire because of his or her age to bring a claim through to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (“DCR”), and limited their damages to just reinstatement with back pay (past lost wages). Now, such an employee also has the option of filing a lawsuit, and his or her damages potentially can include things like front pay (future lost wages), emotional distress damages and punitive damage.
These changes to the LAD went into effect immediately. You can read the full text of the amendment, also known as A681, by clicking here.
About Our Firm
Located in Upper Montclair, Rabner Baumgart Ben-Asher & Nirenberg, P.C., handles a wide range of employment law claims under New Jersey and New York law. For example, we represent individuals who have claims of discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination and harassment.
If you have experienced age discrimination or another violation of your workplace rights, then please feel free to contact us online or to call us at (973) 744-4000 to schedule an initial consultation with one of our employment lawyers.