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Saturday, December 29, 2018

My NJ Boss Does Not Approve of Inter-Racial Dating and Inter-Racial Marriage

It is illegal in New Jersey for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of that person's relationship to or association with a member of a protected class, including race, under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. This is called, "Associational Discrimination."

While the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination does not expressly identify associational discrimination as a distinct claim, numerous state and federal courts have upheld associational discrimination claims to be construed in accordance with the principals set forth in discrimination statutes, whose purpose is to eradicate discrimination. 

In a recent case against Karistos Corporation, a Caucasian female food server claimed she experienced many instances of racial harassment during the seven months she worked as a waitress at the diner where she was employed. Several of her coworkers made racially derogatory comments, including frequent use of the N-word, about her romantic relationship with an African American man, her fiancé, who was the father of her children. Plaintiff brought a civil action against her employer alleging race associational harassment, sexual harassment, and retaliatory discharge under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), N.J.S.A. 10:5‑1 to ‑49.

Plaintiff alleged her employer was unresponsive and dismissive of her repeated complaints concerning this race‑based harassment by the employer's son and her coworkers. Further, she alleged that her employer not only failed to take any action to correct this harassment, but the employer's own misconduct actively encouraged her coworkers to make these racist remarks. The racial harassment was ongoing and extreme, and in one such incident, the employer called her, "You f--ng n-word whore. She suffered an emotionally demeaning work environment on a daily basis and her employer exacerbated the psychologically hostile work environment.

The employer terminated plaintiff's employment allegedly for her accidentally breaking a dish. Plaintiff claimed that she was fired in retaliation for her repeated complaints about the racial harassment and her coworkers regarding her bi-racial son and her relationship with her son's African America father, her fiancé.

After deliberating, the jury found in plaintiff's favor on all counts and the employer appealed. The Appellate Court rejected the employer's arguments and affirmed the lower court’s decision in favor of the Plaintiff.

If your employer treats you on par with other employees but then treats you in a disparate manner and poorly when he learns that you married to, or have a family member of a person of a different race or ethnic group, or are in a close relationship with a person of a different race or ethnic group, then the employer may be engaging in illegal Associational Discrimination.

This is also true if his sudden change of attitude occurs only after he has learned you have a parent, child or close relationship with one who is gay, lesbian or other protected class. Any discrimination or harassment by your employer against you because of your association with a person of a protected class, is in violation of the statute.

In addition to race-based discrimination, some of the categories of persons who are members of a protected class under the NJLAD are: creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation, genetic information, pregnancy, sex, gender identity or expression, disability or atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait of any individual, or because of the liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States or the nationality of any individual. 

If You Are Thinking of Simply Resigning

If you are thinking of simply resigning because of race discrimination in your workplace and/or because you notified your employer about racial harassment and no action was taken, you should contact an attorney experienced in employment law before you do so, to explore your legal options in the safest way for you.

What You Can Do

I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is experienced in successfully representing persons who were subjected to racial harassment and retaliation in the workplace and/or were fired. If you have experienced racism at work, or if you reported it and no action was taken, if you are thinking of resigning, or think you will be fired, or have been fired, it is important that you consult with an attorney who is experienced in discrimination.

If you are being subjected to workplace discrimination, contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law serves clients throughout New Jersey, including Bergen, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, and Morris Counties with locations in southern, central, western and northern NJ to meet with clients.



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