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Monday, August 2, 2021

NJ Disability Employment Law Attorney, My Employer Won’t Promote Me, Thinks I’m Handicapped or Disabled

In New Jersey, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against you because he perceives you to be disabled, irrespective of whether you actually are disabled or not. If this happens, you may have a valid claim for illegal employment discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination even if you are not disabled.

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination is broad enough to prohibit discrimination because of perceived handicaps even if you are not in fact handicapped. If your employer thinks you are handicapped or disabled, it may be a valid claim in some situations even if you are not disabled.

Many subsequent cases of perceived disability discrimination cite back to a 1982 NJ Supreme Court case, Andersen v. Exxon Co., U.S.A. In that case, the court dealt with the question of a "perceived disability" being a valid claim, where the employer, for reasons bordering on superstition, concluded that a particular condition may result in disability. The court referenced cases in other jurisdictions that held that judgment or opinion formed before the facts are known is the basis of much employment discrimination. Perceived medical disabilities may prove on examination to be non-existent or unrelated to job performance.

The NJ Supreme Court cited to a Washington State case where an employee who was perceived by the employer as being handicapped had standing to bring a suit under Washington State law on the grounds that he was illegally discharged on the basis of his perceived handicap. At issue was whether perceived disabilities was covered under that state’s anti-discrimination statue.

The court held that the employee, claiming not to have been handicapped, was permitted to file a lawsuit under the state discrimination statute on the grounds that he was illegally discharged under the erroneous belief he suffered a handicap. As is the case in New Jersey, the Washington’s law's application was not limited to those who actually were disabled, but also included those who were thought to be disabled.

The Anderson Court also referenced an earlier Wisconsin discrimination case which had reached the same conclusion, i.e. that perceived disability is covered under discrimination law. In the Wisconsin matter, the employer perceived the employee's condition as a handicap and for that reason, terminated his employment. The Wisconsin court held that the employee's perceived handicap must be interpreted as being within the meaning and intent of the discrimination statute. Thus, the terminated employee was entitled to protection from discrimination based on his perceived handicap by the employer.

Some examples of where an employer may perceive a worker to be handicapped although fully recovered from a prior existing medical condition might be if an employee had a heart attack several years prior, or a worker had cancer prior but it had been in remission for years.

Don’t sit on your rights!

If You Are Thinking of Simply Resigning

If you are thinking of simply resigning because of discrimination in your workplace and/or because you notified your employer about discrimination or 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 disability or perceived handicapped discrimination and obtaining monetary compensation for them. If you have experienced discrimination at work, are thinking of resigning, or think you will be fired, or have been fired, it is important that you immediately 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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