A group of former male employees of a high-end Manhattan department store have filed a lawsuit alleging race and age discrimination against the store and its corporate parent. They claim that they were subjected to a hostile work environment because of their age or race, or both in some cases, and that the defendant unlawfully terminated their employment. Although the lawsuit is pending in a New York court, federal and New Jersey antidiscrimination laws provide a helpful comparison of varying levels of protection against age discrimination. New Jersey’s antidiscrimination statute provides broader protections than its federal counterpart.
Federal and state law provide a similar range of protections against race discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal statute, prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race and color, as well as religion, national origin, and sex. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a). The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of numerous factors, including race, color, national origin, and ancestry. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 10:5-12(a).
New Jersey law and federal law differ in the extent to which they address age discrimination. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), a federal statute, only applies to individuals who are forty years old or older. 29 U.S.C. § 631(a). It prohibits discrimination by employers based on age, using language similar to that found in Title VII. Id. at § 623(a). The statute allows exceptions, such as in cases of people who work in “a bona fide executive or a high policymaking position,” are at least sixty-five years old, and meet other criteria related to employment benefits. Id. at § 631(c).
The NJLAD prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of age. Rather than providing a minimum age for protection against age discrimination, the NJLAD states that it does not prohibit an employer “from refusing to accept for employment or to promote any person over 70 years of age.” N.J. Rev. Stat. § 10:5-12(a). The statute also does not apply to minors, meaning individuals under the age of eighteen who are subject to laws regarding child labor. Aside from those exceptions, as the New Jersey Attorney General has noted, the NJLAD prohibits discrimination against individuals “because they are older than others, and…because they are younger than others.”
The eight plaintiffs in the lawsuit mentioned earlier worked for the flagship store of a high-end department store chain in Manhattan. They claim that managers “deliberately targeted them because of their race and/or age,” and that they endured both hostile and disparate treatment. Several of the plaintiffs had worked at the store for several years when it was acquired by a new corporate parent in 2013. They allege that the discrimination either began or worsened after the acquisition. Alleged acts of discrimination include loss of promotions, disparate enforcement of rules against older and younger employees, false accusations, racially derogatory statements, and pretextual discipline in spite of excellent work performance.
The Resnick Law Group’s team of knowledgeable and experienced employment lawyers advocate for the rights of employees, former employees, and job seekers in New Jersey and New York in claims for unlawful employment practices. To schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team, please contact us today at 973-781-1204, at 646-867-7997, or online.
More Blog Posts:
New Jersey Federal Court Rules for Employee in Age Discrimination Lawsuit, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, December 21, 2018
Jury Awards $6 Million to Former Employee in National Origin, Age Discrimination Case, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, December 7, 2018
Certain Terms May Act as Code for Age Discrimination, Other Unlawful Employment Practices in New Jersey, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, May 19, 2016