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Monday, August 16, 2021

NJ Employment Discrimination Attorney-Associational Race Discrimination at Work

If your boss starts treating you poorly or discriminates against you because he/she learns of your association with person(s) of a race other than your own race or ethnicity, that is “Associational Discrimination”. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination is sufficiently latitudinous to allow race and ethnic discrimination claims to proceed based on the Plaintiff’s association with a person of a different race or ethnicity.

By way of example, a white waitress works at her job for several years, and when the employer learns she is dating a Black man, her shifts get cut. A long-term worker brings her children to an employer-sponsored party where the employer learns that her children are bi-racial, and subsequently the promotion she was promised is given to someone else. Or a secretary who is known at work to be Jewish tells her boss that she is married to an Egyptian Muslim, and she thereafter is “let go” in a bogus restructuring. In the latter example, the associational discrimination  complaint could have two claims; one claim based on ethnicity and the other on religious association.

In a case involving a New Jersey diner, in the unpublished opinion by the New Jersey Appellate Division, Norton v. Karistos Corp., the Court upheld the Superior Court’s jury finding and award on behalf of a Caucasian waitress who brought such a race association discrimination against the corporation that owned the diner in which she worked. The Court also upheld the jury award against the individual supervisor at the diner as an aider and abettor to illegal discrimination.

The waitress’s coworkers harassed her regarding her biracial son and because of her  relationship with her son's Black father. Although the waitress repeatedly complained about the  race-based harassment by her coworkers to her supervisor, he was unresponsive and disdainful of her repeated complaints. Instead, her supervisor himself used profanities and racial epithets related to her relationship with the father of her children.

The supervisor subsequently terminated her allegedly for her accidently dropping and breaking a dish. Plaintiff claimed, however, that she was fired in retaliation for her repeated complaints about the harassing racist comments made by her co-workers and her supervisor about her biracial son and her relationship with his Black father. Stated differently, plaintiff claimed the supervisor used the plate dropping and breaking as a pretext to justify her termination.

Defendant's argument attempted to keep the owner Corporation from incurring liability but the s supervisor’s testimony established that he had absolute authority over all of the decisions concerning the diner’s operation and he set the terms and conditions of employment unilaterally. Therefore the diner met all of the characteristics of a proprietorship by the corporation so it was responsible, it did incur liability, as did the individual supervisor as aider and abettor.

The Appellate Court found no legal grounds to vacate or modify the jury award in any way and upheld the jury’s award of damages for the terminated waitress.

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 if You Were Terminated or Retaliated by Employer

I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is experienced in successfully representing persons subjected to racial harassment and retaliation in the workplace and recovering six figure monetary compensation for them. 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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