New Jersey Law Against Discrimination Provides Additional Protection to Military Reserves

On August 8, 2017, Governor Chris Christie signed into law an amendment to the New Jersey law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) that provides additional protection to members of the United States military.  The amendment went into effect immediately.

New Jersey Law Against Discrimination Protects Members of US MilitaryPrior to the amendment, the LAD included “liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States” as a legally protected category, but only in the context of employment and entering into contracts.  The LAD defines “liability for service in the Armed Forces” to mean being subject to being: (1) ordered into “active service in the Armed Forces of the United States by reason of membership in the National Guard, naval militia or a reserve component of the Armed Forces of the United States,” or (2) “inducted into such armed forces through a system of national selective service.”

Among other changes, under the new amendment the LAD now prohibits discrimination to this category of members of the Armed Services in the context of housing, making loans and providing access to places of public accommodation.  Places of public accommodations are places that are generally accessible to members of the public such as restaurants, hotels, stores, parks, hospitals, theaters, colleges and universities.

The amended law also requires affirmative action programs on public works contracts for most veterans.  Previously, those benefits applied only to veterans of the Vietnam War.

Although the LAD still does not prohibit discrimination against veterans, a federal law, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (“USERRA”), prohibits employment discrimination based on both current and past military service.

In its statement attached to the amendment to the LAD, the New Jersey State Senate indicated that the LAD will now “extend full protection . . . to persons having liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States . . . including protection against discrimination in employment, public accommodations, housing, land use, lending, and association membership.”

A copy of the full text of the new law is available here.