What Does New Jersey Law Say About Discrimination Against Unemployed Job Applicants?

New Jersey employment laws provide safeguards against policies and practices that may create unfair roadblocks in job searches. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), for example, prohibits employers from discriminating in hiring and other areas of employment on the basis of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age, and other factors. An area of employment discrimination that might not receive as much attention as others is discrimination in hiring against unemployed workers. The longer an individual has been out of work, the more difficult it can be for them to find a job. New Jersey law provides some protection against this kind of discrimination, although it does not go as far as other anti-discrimination laws. If you believe you have experienced discrimination because you are currently unemployed, a New Jersey employment lawyer can look at all of the circumstances surrounding the incident to see if they could support a legal claim.

A study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and published in 2016 examined how the length of time a person is without a job can affect their chances of finding a new job. It found that the longer the gap in employment history on a person’s resume, the lower their chances of getting calls from potential employers. Even when controlling for factors like level of education, the probability of finding a job still decreases as one’s length of time without a job increases.

The Fed study took looked at data from the years after the 2007-09 recession, which resulted in unemployment rates of up to ten percent. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected employment rates in ways that we still do not fully understand. Many people lost their jobs during the pandemic and are still trying to return to the careers they had before 2020. Unemployment discrimination can be a significant hurdle.

Many hiring managers might be understanding of someone with a gap in their resume because of the sheer scale of the pandemic’s impact on the economy. Other hiring managers, however, might look at a gap in a resume and assume that a job applicant would still be employed if they were any good at their job. Laws addressing unemployment discrimination seek to minimize the impact of this type of thinking.

New Jersey enacted a law in 2011 that bars employers from advertising that a job opening is limited to people who are currently employed, or that an employer will not consider applications from anyone who is not currently employed. The law does not, however, prohibit employers from basing an adverse hiring decision on an applicant’s employment status. The only remedy allowed by the law is a civil penalty paid to the state. It does not allow private causes of action.

Acts that appear to constitute discrimination on the basis of unemployment, while not against the law in New Jersey, could violate the law in other ways. For example, this type of discrimination could fall disproportionately on older job applicants. Both the NJLAD and the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibit discrimination based on age. The ADEA only applies to employees and job applicants who are at least forty years old, but the NJLAD applies to all adults.

If you are involved in a dispute with an employer or a prospective employer in New Jersey or New York, an experienced employment attorney can advise you of your rights and advocate for your interests. Please contact the Resnick Law Group online, at 973-781-1204, or at 646-867-7997 today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case.

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