Jersey City Workplace Discrimination Lawyers

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Jersey City Workplace Discrimination Lawyers

America was founded on the principle of equality, and the civil rights laws passed in the latter half of the 20th century ensured equal opportunities in the workplace. Under both state and federal laws, employers cannot discriminate against workers based on several classifications.

Workers who experience discrimination in the workplace might not earn as much or receive the same level of training and advancement as their fellow workers. They may even face hostility, harassment, bullying, and retaliation.

Garces, Grabler & LeBrocq has decades of experience representing workers who have experienced discriminatory treatment. Our Jersey City workplace discrimination lawyers pursue workplace discrimination claims to help you recover compensation for discrimination. But they can also seek remedies to prevent your employer from continuing its discriminatory policies.

What Is Workplace Discrimination?

Workplace discrimination happens when your employer treats you differently based on a “suspect classification.” These classifications are called “suspect” because any differentiation based on them is likely to be based on stereotypes rather than the individual’s:

  • Qualifications
  • Experience
  • Merit
  • Knowledge
  • Skill

For example, suppose an employer has a call center to provide technical support. The company cannot have a policy against hiring people of a certain race because it believes they will not speak English well enough to help customers over the phone.

Instead of basing hiring practices on this stereotype, the employer should use interviews and tests to determine language proficiency.

The suspect classifications covered in state and federal law include the following:

The law contains no bright lines to define race. Racial discrimination can arise based on:

  • Heredity
  • Ethnicity
  • Ancestry
  • Genetics
  • Appearance
  • Hair color
  • Skin color

Racial discrimination might be clear when it is based on familiar racial categories like white, black, or Latino. It is not as clear when it is based on categories that are more representative of a religion, like Jewish, or a national origin, like Irish. Fortunately, civil rights laws cover discrimination on these bases as well.

National origin has grown into an important ground for workplace discrimination claims. Discrimination against someone because they are “Mexican” without discriminating against “Mexican-Americans” is a form of national origin discrimination because it singles out Mexicans due to their national origin. Similarly, discriminating against Spanish-speaking people without discriminating against everyone from Latin America is a form of national origin discrimination.

The ban on national origin discrimination broadens the scope of civil rights laws to cover actions taken based on immutable characteristics that might not fit squarely within the definition of race. Examples include the country of origin for you or your ancestors, your primary language, or your ethnicity.

Color in the context of civil rights laws depends entirely on appearance. For example, dark-skinned Polynesians might discriminate against light-skinned Polynesians. This type of discrimination does not fall under race or national origin. Instead, it is based wholly on color.

Alienage refers to a person’s citizenship or immigration status. For purposes of employment, employers must refuse to hire anyone who doesn’t have the legal right to work in the U.S. This means an employer can deny employment to holders of certain types of visas as well as undocumented immigrants.

Employers cannot discriminate based on alienage among those with the legal authority to work. This means they cannot favor any of these groups over others:

  • Natural-born citizens
  • Naturalized citizens
  • Permanent residents, also called green card holders
  • Work-based visa holders

In many cases, alienage acts as a stand-in for race or national origin. By banning discrimination based on alienage, civil rights laws stop employers from making an end run around other forms of prohibited discrimination.

Employers cannot discriminate based on religion or religious belief. Remember that the identity of the person doing the discriminating does not matter. A Catholic employer who refuses to hire Catholics has violated civil rights laws.

Employers cannot discriminate based on sex. While sex includes gender, it is also broader than mere gender. It includes sexual preference. It also covers characteristics that impact only one sex, such as pregnancy.

Employers that have legitimate physical job requirements can test applicants. However, they cannot create phony physical requirements to exclude female applicants. They also cannot discriminate when conducting tests.

This means a fire department might require all applicants to lift 200 pounds and eliminate any who cannot meet this requirement. This requirement might disproportionately eliminate women from consideration. However, the fire department will not violate civil rights laws as long as it uniformly requires testing and eliminates everyone who fails, regardless of sex.

Discrimination based on disability comes from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This civil rights law was passed in 1990, well after the original Civil Rights Acts.

This law is different from the categorical prohibitions applied to other classifications. Under the ADA, the employer is required to reasonably accommodate the person’s disability unless it would impose an undue hardship on the business.

Examples of reasonable accommodations include building wheelchair ramps, permitting service animals, and buying assistive software to read text to visually impaired workers.

Employers have some restrictions on age discrimination based on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967. However, like disability discrimination, the restrictions under the ADEA are not categorical.

Employers cannot discriminate against any person 40 or older based on their age. This means employers cannot have different terms, conditions, or privileges of employment for workers under 40 compared to those 40 or older.

ADEA does not prohibit discrimination against young workers. For example, a company can have a categorical restriction against hiring delivery drivers under 25 years old. But the company can’t have a categorical restriction against hiring cashiers over 60. One of the common practices eliminated by ADEA was including age as a qualification in job listings.

Another common practice prohibited by ADEA is a mandatory retirement age. Employers cannot require employees to retire at a certain age. Instead of stereotyping based on the employee’s age, they must show that the employee can no longer do the job.

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Types of Workplace Discrimination in Jersey City

Civil rights laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace. Workplace discrimination cases fall into three broad types:

Denying Equal Opportunities

Employers cannot take any action that affects the conditions or benefits of employment based on prohibited classifications. Some actions that an employer cannot perform in a discriminatory way include the following:

  • Hiring
  • Firing and laying off
  • Training
  • Promoting
  • Increasing pay
  • Providing fringe benefits like insurance
  • Assigning tasks

Your employer can be liable for this type of discrimination regardless of their intent. It doesn’t matter if they discriminate because they favored one group or disfavored a different group. The only relevant fact is that one group was favored over the other group, that the groups were defined based on a prohibited classification, and that actions were taken against you because you belonged to one of the groups.

For example, suppose that you are a black salesperson for a pharmaceutical company. Your employer sends all the white salespeople, including those with less experience than you, to sales training. The employer denies your promotion because you have not completed the training course.

Your employer’s reasons for taking these steps are irrelevant. The relevant fact is that your job situation has fewer opportunities and that the only reason for this difference is your race.

Creating a Hostile Work Environment

The second form of discrimination happens when your employer creates a hostile work environment. This means you are subjected to such intense and pervasive abuse, bullying, harassment, or retaliation that it becomes a condition of your employment.

To prove workplace discrimination, we must prove that you were targeted for hostility due to your membership in a protected class. We must also show that the hostility went beyond a few comments or jokes. Most critically, we must show that your employer created the environment or did nothing to stop it after learning of it.

For example, suppose that one shift supervisor always writes up Spanish-speaking workers for violations and bullies them by calling them names and taping racist memes on their locker doors.

If no one reports the actions, the employer might claim that the supervisor went rogue. But if someone reports them and the employer does nothing to correct the problems, the employer might have contributed to the hostile work environment due to inaction.

A term you may hear in hostile work environment cases is “quid pro quo.” Although quid pro quo might contribute to a hostile work environment, you do not necessarily need to experience quid pro quo to have a discrimination case.

For example, in a classic sexual harassment case, the harasser might threaten to derail the target’s career if they do not agree to a dating or sexual relationship. This “something for something” trade is meant to pressure the employee using fear.

Since it is based on the employee’s sex, the law prohibits this type of quid pro quo.

But quid pro quo is only one type of hostility that qualifies as discrimination. Pervasive sexual harassment, by itself, would be enough to create a hostile work environment without any quid pro quo or the threat of it.


The third type of claim involves retaliation. In this type of claim, the employee doesn’t experience discrimination based on their race, sex, or other immutable characteristic. Instead, the employer discriminates against the employee for helping another worker’s discrimination claim.

For example, an employer might fire a male employee who testified in support of a female employee’s sexual harassment case.

Understanding Employer or Workplace Discrimination

To understand employer and workplace discrimination, you need to go back to the reason for civil rights laws. Equality in America means equal opportunity. The laws don’t promise success to anyone. Instead, they promise that everyone will have the same opportunities to succeed, and if they make the most of them, they can succeed just like anyone else.

New Jersey law goes even further than federal law in ensuring a level playing field. In addition to race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, and disability, employers in the state also cannot discriminate based on:

  • Creed
  • Nationality
  • Ancestry
  • Familial status
  • Marital/civil union status
  • Domestic partnership status
  • Atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait
  • Gender identity and expression
  • Genetic information
  • Liability for military service
  • AIDS and HIV status

Importantly, your Jersey City workplace discrimination lawyer doesn’t need to prove animus to win your case. Workplace discrimination is not about hatred, dislike, or distaste for a particular group. It’s about the unequal treatment of that group. From the viewpoint of the law, holding down one group or promoting a different group produces the same result. The goal of both New Jersey and U.S. employment discrimination laws is to give everyone an equal opportunity to succeed in a genuinely unbiased way.

Compensation You May Be Entitled to in an Employment Discrimination Case

Before you pursue an employment discrimination claim, you must file an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge. This opens an investigation by the EEOC. You do not need to wait until the EEOC finishes its investigation, but you do need to get a Notice of Right to Sue if you plan to sue before the investigation ends.

If the EEOC takes action on your case, you might receive compensation, but the EEOC’s remedies are capped based on the size of your employer. The EEOC can also order your employer to end its discriminatory practices and place you where you should have been without suffering unequal treatment.

The problem with the EEOC is that it takes action on only a small fraction of all the charges it receives. The odds are good that your case will receive no attention from the EEOC, even if your claims have merit.

Instead, you will probably need to pursue an employment discrimination lawsuit. The compensation you can seek in an employment discrimination case includes the following categories.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are meant to put you in the financial position you would have had if you had not been discriminated against. These damages include your income losses due to the following:

  • Being underpaid
  • Not receiving promotions or pay raises
  • Being fired or laid off
  • Getting pushed out of the company

To recover these kinds of financial damages, you must show that they were caused by the discrimination you experienced. For example, suppose that your employer denied you training and promotions, but you ultimately left your job to take care of a sick relative. You will likely get compensated for the losses while you were employed and not the losses when you left.

Compensatory damages can also include compensation for emotional distress. Being treated unfairly could cause you to worry, lose sleep, and become depressed. These impacts on your quality of life might have value in addition to any amounts you spend on therapy and mental health treatment.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are rare. But courts can award them to punish an employer for especially egregious actions. We need to prove that the case is extraordinary and not in a good sense. Your employer must have done something that other employers do not do.

The good news is that punitive damages are meant to send a message to your employer and other employers who might contemplate doing the same thing. As a result, these damages are often deliberately huge, so they attract attention.

Injunctive Relief

Injunctions are orders from a court requiring your employer to do something or refrain from doing something. For example, a court might order your former employer to reinstate or even promote you. You might also seek a change in the discriminatory practices, at least as they apply to you.

Why Hire GGL?

Since 1991, Garces, Grabler & LeBrocq has represented clients against those who have wronged them. We prepare every case as if it will reach trial by thoroughly investigating and documenting our clients’ claims. No law firm will ever out-prepare us.

This approach is necessary in a Jersey City workplace discrimination case. Much of the evidence of your employer’s policies and practices will be in your employer’s possession. Witnesses may be reluctant to step forward. And even those who do may be accused of exaggerating or misremembering.

We will put together the evidence that persuades a judge or jury of the discrimination you experienced. The hope is that this evidence convinces your employer to resolve the case quickly and fairly rather than going to trial.

Contact us online or at 1-800-923-3456 to discuss your unfair treatment at work and the remedies that may be available to you under New Jersey and U.S. laws.

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Jersey City Workplace Discrimination Lawyers

Address: 3000 John F. Kennedy Blvd. Suite 311 Jersey City, NJ 07306
Phone: (201) 695-1000

Open 24/7 365

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Recent GGL Wins

Medical Malpractice

A 30-year-old pregnant woman went into labor. The doctor failed to take proper steps in the baby’s delivery, making the mother wait in the hallway for ten hours while the baby’s heart rate began to drop. The baby was delivered via C-Section; he was blue from lack of oxygen resulting in Cerebral Palsy.

$14 Million


Construction Accident

Mediation award resulting from an industrial explosion causing disfiguring burns and severe orthopedic injuries.

$7,8 Million


Auto Accident

31-year-old man who was cut off by another car causing his car to flip over. He sustained head injuries, facial injuries, and half of his pinky finger was amputated.

$3 Million