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Monday, November 29, 2021

NJ Employment Race Discrimination Attorney, Employment Protections and The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

When you cast your vote for the elected officials whom you want to represent your interests, you, the voter, determine which representatives you want to write, sponsor and pass bills that will affect your civil rights and which determine your rights as an employee.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act was approved by the US House of Representatives on August 24, 2021. It has been widely discussed that the bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate. This new bill aims to restore the full protections of the original, bipartisan Voting Rights Act of 1965. The US Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder decision eviscerated key voting rights protections that were in the original, bipartisan Voting Rights Act of 1965.

State and local officials historically and conventionally set the qualifications for voting; therefore federal oversight of voting rights protection was a significant change in the constitutional balance of power between the federal government and the states brought about by the original Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 provided for  the appointment of Federal examiners in the jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination. What was most significant, these jurisdictions could not change voting practices or procedures including redistricting without "preclearance" from either the U.S. Attorney General or the District Court for Washington, DC. This act shifted the power to register voters from state and local officials to the Federal government.

Preclearance was the process of seeking U.S. Department of Justice approval for all changes related to voting including redistricting. Section 5 of the Act requires that the United States Department of Justice or a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for District of Columbia preclear any attempt to change any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting in any "covered jurisdiction" which was a jurisdiction with a history of voter suppression. The Shelby County v. Holder decision gutted the voting rights protections that were in the original, bipartisan Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Targeted Voter Suppression Has Steadily Increased since the Shelby County V. Holder Decision

After the US Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder eviscerated key parts of The Voting Rights Act of 1965, the targeted voter suppression of communities of color and persons of certain economic classes has been steadily increasing. This was evidenced during the 2020 election cycle and the deluge of new bills in 2021 aimed at restricting voting in certain populations.

Over 400 Bills with Provisions That Restrict Access to Voting Have Been Introduced in the 2021 Legislative Sessions

Shockingly, over 400 bills with provisions that restrict access to voting have been introduced in the 2021 legislative sessions in 49 states. This is a horrifying statistic.

In the aftermath of the 2020 election, from January 1 to July 14, 2021,  at least 18 states already had enacted 30 laws which restrict access to voting. These 30 enacted laws make early voting more difficult and they restrict mail-in voting. They also instituted procedures to make faulty voter purges more likely, without procedures to have them be corrected.

New Jersey however has expanded access to voting.

Purging Names of Eligible Voters from Voter Registration Lists

Purging names of eligible voters through a variety of tactics to favor one group over another and diminish the voting power of Black and minority voters was one tactic that the original Voting Rights Act of 1965 sought to remedy. One of the tactics particularly relevant here, is some States erected procedures requiring voters to renew registrations whenever moved even if to another address in the same town. Another tactic was a voter's name would be taken off the eligible voter registration list if he/she failed  to vote in an election. Both of these tactics sharply depressed voter turnout among Blacks and immigrants.

Recent Changes in Precinct Rules and Reduction of Ballot Boxes

Many persons do not work a nine-to-five job. They have multiple employers or work double shifts or graveyard shifts and are unable to vote when the times and places to vote are restricted. Some recent attempts to curb voting were removal of ballot boxes in certain targeted areas, restricting the hours the polling places are open, restricting mail-in and early voting. As to the over 400 anti-voter bills which have been introduced in the US, this targeted anti-voter impetus results in democracy being compromised where the voting results do not accurately reflect the will of the people.

Recently voter participation is discouraged through some states' imposition of arbitrary requirements and harsh penalties on poll workers and voters who unknowingly violate these rules. Lines can be notoriously long, many hours long, after the number of precincts have been reduced in certain targeted neighborhoods, hurting persons of color, the elderly and the disabled.

It is harmful to persons who have who have to make the choice of voting or arriving at their job on time so as to not be terminated or written up. In one state lawmakers have made it a crime to provide food and water to voters standing in line at the polls,  including assisting the elderly and disabled standing outside for hours with no breaks for water or bathrooms. During the Covid pandemic, the reduction in polling places requiring persons to stand outside for hours also had an effect on indoor health conditions at the polling places. These rules were instituted in states with no mask mandates or social distancing rules, and pre-vaccines being available, and required the elderly and disabled to be inside in close proximity in the midst of the pandemic for hours, or else forfeit their right to vote.

Today, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is a response  to correct and prevent across the board numerous tactics of targeted voter suppression by restoring the full protections of the original, bipartisan Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was last reauthorized by Congress in 2006, but gutted in 2013 by the Supreme Court.

Voting rights ultimately affect your rights as an employee because you choose your lawmakers.

If You Experience Discrimination in Your Workplace

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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