Despite there being laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against women because of pregnancy, that sort of discrimination remains a problem in New Jersey and across the country. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reportedly received 2,790 pregnancy discrimination complaints in 2018 alone, and a staff attorney for the Women's Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union said that figure likely underestimates the number of workers who are impacted by pregnancy discrimination.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, harassment is unwelcome conduct based on sex, race, religion, color, age, national origin, genetic information or disability. Harassment based on sex includes discrimination related to pregnancy. As another example, harassment based on age is prohibited against people who are at least 40 years of age. The federal harassment laws that apply in New Jersey and across the country are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released an article that described which types of relief it can provide for victims of federal workplace discrimination. The EEOC is responsible for handling discrimination claims in New Jersey and around the country. When they order relief, their goal is to give the victims compensation that makes them whole or as close as possible to whole.
Employers create internal policies to manage employee behavior and promote productivity. Enforcement of these policies, however, might appear inconsistent, especially to workers in New Jersey who suspect that their gender, race, sexual orientation, age or ethnicity prompted managers to single them out for punishment or termination. A court case involving the dismissal of an openly gay man has established the precedent that uneven enforcement of company rules does amount to discrimination.
A new survey has found a disconnect between workplace attitudes and older workers' intentions of remaining employed. When the Hiscox insurance company queried people about age discrimination, responses showed a widespread problem. Among workers age 40 and over, 20% responded that they had been the target of age discrimination at work. The same survey, however, indicated that 67% of respondents 65 and younger expected to remain employed after age 66.
A survey published by Plos One found that workplace sexual harassment complaints had gone down in New Jersey and throughout the country between 2016 and 2018. It is believed that the #MeToo movement played a role in this occurring. Women who took part in the survey said that they felt more confident in reporting instances of harassment. They also said that they felt better about confronting their abusers than they had in the past.
There is a long history of the battle between workers and employers in establishing basic rights and protections for employees. While an individual has little power against a company, the basis of most laws focuses on protecting a class of workers from discriminatory actions in hiring practices as well as treatment in the workplace. For instance, one of the earliest efforts involved child labor in the early part of the 20th century. Although New Jersey and many other states have laws protecting the LGBTQ community, the issue is on the October slate of cases for the Supreme Court to decide.
New Jersey workers who file a discrimination claim against their employer under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act may be able to have that claim heard in federal court even if they do not first file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This was the unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Fort Bend County v. Davis.
LGBT workers continue to face discrimination on the job in New Jersey, even when they are in high-powered and highly compensated positions. For example, one former Goldman Sachs banker is suing the Wall Street firm after being fired. A leader in the company's LGBT network, the man says that he was fired in retaliation for his claims about discriminatory treatment and homophobia in the workplace. The lawsuit accuses the investment bank of paying "lip service" to diversity and LGBT equality while discrimination continues in practice on the job.
Older New Jersey employees who are concerned about workplace age discrimination should be aware of a proposed law that would make it easier to pursue monetary damages in the event of wrongful termination or demotion. POWADA, the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, is a proposed law that seeks to make it less complicated to show that an employer committed age discrimination. Since a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2009 that sided heavily with employers, it has been more difficult for victims of age discrimination to successfully seek damages.