NJ Out of State Workers: New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination Applies to Them

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With the increased trend towards remote work, the New Jersey Attorney General (AG) has issued Guidance on Discrimination and Out-of-State Workers. The AG’s Guidance interprets the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) to apply to all out-of-state employees of New Jersey employers.

What Does the Guidance Say about Out-of-State Workers Employed by NJ Businesses

According to the New Jersey Attorney General, NJLAD’s protections apply to all workers who are employed by a New Jersey business, regardless of where the employee physically works.

New Jersey, through NJLAD, enacted one of the most expansive anti-discrimination laws in the nation. NJLAD protects numerous categories of individuals from discrimination and harassment. New Jersey’s protected categories include:

  • race,
  • creed,
  • color,
  • national origin,
  • nationality,
  • ancestry,
  • age,
  • sex,
  • gender,
  • pregnancy,
  • marital status,
  • civil union status,
  • domestic partnership status,
  • familial status,
  • religion,
  • affectional or sexual orientation,
  • gender identity or gender expression,
  • atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait,
  • genetic information,
  • liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States, and
  • disability.

Employers that violate NJLAD’s protections can be sued in court or in the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR), and be subject to liabilities for front pay, back pay, emotional distress damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.

Is the Guidance a Change in the Law?

The AG’s Guidance does not change or amend NJLAD. Rather, the Guidance is intended to clarify and explain how NJLAD applies to out-of-state employees given the increase in remote workers. There have not been many reported court decisions interpreting whether NJLAD applies to out-of-state employees, but the AG’s Guidance is based upon the few decisions that have been reported on that issue. Thus, the Guidance should not be read as a change to the law, but rather confirmation that the AG’s office and the DCR will follow the judicial decisions finding that workers of New Jersey based businesses are entitled to the protections of NJLAD, even if the worker is employed in a different state.

What Should New Jersey Employers With Remote Workers Do Now?

The protections afforded by anti-discrimination laws can vary from state to state. In light of the AG’s Guidance, New Jersey employers with remote workers should carefully review their policies and practices to ensure that employees working remotely in other states are being afforded the protections employers are (or should be) giving to their New Jersey based employees when dealing with issues of harassment or discrimination, including reasonable accommodations for disabilities.

If you have questions about handling your remote workforce, or compliance with New Jersey’s employment laws, please schedule a complimentary consultation through our online scheduling system.

Information contained in this blog is provided for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or opinion. You should consult with an attorney regarding the specifics of your matter or legal issue.