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Monday, June 28, 2021

NJ Employment Discrimination Attorney-Race Discrimination at Work in the Face of Juneteenth

President Biden signed legislation on June 17, 2021 making Juneteenth a national holiday which was commemorated for the first time this year. It marks the day 156 years ago of June 19, 1865 when enslaved Blacks in Texas were told about their freedom. Unfortunately, slavery had not been eradicated completely throughout the United States after June 19, 1865, either by not being abolished by law or through loopholes in then-existing laws. It was not until the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865, that slavery was abolished by law. Even then, slavery still existed in part in certain pockets to be described in a part 2 of this topic.

With the abolition of slavery, racism itself did not end unfortunately. After a brief period during the Reconstruction Period when the newly freed Blacks began flourishing economically, and in the arts and culturally, there were harsh adverse reactions to the new social and economic developments made by the newly freed Blacks who could now own property rather than be property themselves. The racist backlash led to government mandated apartheid throughout much of the United States. Euphemistically called “Jim Crow”, this government sanctioned apartheid was as extreme in its severity as that of South African apartheid at its worse. Apartheid is a government law, policy, or legal system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race. You may read more about apartheid in the United States in Post-Civil War Apartheid and Jim Crow.

Apartheid statutes in the United States lasted until the mid-1960's when they were abolished by the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Unfortunately, deeply ingrained cultural racial ideology has a persisting existence in present time despite the passage of Civil Rights Statutes.

Persisting cultural racism exists in many of this country’s institutional and business practices including in high-end professional occupations. Racism in the workplace still exists today in spite of the passage of many state and federal anti-discrimination statutes, although it may be less frequently blatant and out in the open. Some unscrupulous businesses attempt to evade discrimination laws and pay Black employees less than they pay non-Black employees although both perform essentially the same job function.

The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act

These guileful employers think they can allow this discriminatory disparity in pay not have it be considered technically illegal as long as the employees’ job descriptions have different titles. Not so! In New Jersey, the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act allows treble damages to a plaintiff who can prevail in a claim of disparate pay based on his/her race as well as other protected classes such as sex. This pertains to not just the disparity in the hourly rate of pay but also applies to how benefits are awarded, disparity in the authorization and/or approval of higher paying overtime work, and the apportionment of additional part-time yet higher paying work projects.

The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act incorporated into the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination at N.J.S.A. 10:5-12 et seq., states in part that it is illegal for a NJ  employer to pay any of its employees who is a member of a protected class at a rate of compensation, including benefits, which is less than the rate paid by the employer to employees who are not members of the protected class for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort and responsibility.

Don’t sit on your rights!

If you think your employer is violating the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act or is discriminating against you, you should call this office today. I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is experienced in successfully representing persons who were subjected to discrimination, 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 employment 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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