How Bill S-121 Further Protects Employees Against Discrimination
On March 18, 2019, Governor Philip D. Murphy signed into law Bill S-121. The bill was intended to benefit New Jersey employees by, among other things, amending the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). N.J.S.A. §10:5-1 et seq. (“NJLAD”), Now, employers are prohibited from requiring their employees to waive statutory rights and remedies for claims of discrimination, retaliation or harassment. Ultimately, Bill S-121 further protects employees against discrimination by allowing them to fully exercise their right to a jury trial. Prior to the bill, employers in New Jersey could force employees to preemptively sign an agreement, waiving their rights to a jury trial under claims of discriminaiton, harassment or retaliation. Not only did this save employers time and money, it also allowed them to push harassment and discrimination issues under the rug.
The Effect on Employers
For years, employers have tried to deprive New Jersey employees of access to courts and juries through loopholes in the NJLAD. Now, with the new amendment, the NJLAD can better protect all employees from discrimination and sexual harrasment. Essentially, the NJLAD allows a person to file a lawsuit in a state or federal court and request an unbiased jury to hear his/her claim. Documents waiving an employee’s rights to file lawsuits or request a trial are now deemed useless under the NJLAD. New Jersey employers must finally face claims of discrimination or harassment head on.
In addition, if an employer still tries to enforce such a waiver or attempts to retaliate against you for opposing such a waiver, you could have substantial rights and remedies under the amended law. Furthermore, the words of the amendment clearly state that waiving rights and remedies for discrimination, harassment, or retaliation claims are not just prohibited under NJLAD. It is also prohibited under “any other statute or case law,” thus any attempt by an employer to waive rights and remedies for discrimination claims are invalid. Employers should, and will now be, held more accountable for their discriminatory acts.
The Details You Should Know
The amended law applies to all contracts and agreements entered into, modified, or renewed on or after March 18, 2019. Therefore, the amendment does not apply to contracts or agreements entered into prior to this date. If an employer still attempts to enforce a waiver provision that is deemed to be against public policy and unenforceable under this law, they will be liable for the employee’s reasonable attorney fees. In other words, if you feel your employer has wrongfully forced you to sign an agreement waiving your rights and remedies in relation to discrimination, harassment or retaliation claims, your employer may have to cover all attorney fees and costs for your case.
Have You Ever Signed Such a Waiver?
If you read about the amended New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and feel your employer had you sign a unenforceable waiver contract, you have the right to an attorney and jury trial. Additionally, if you feel you have been discriminated against or harassed in the workplace, but have avoided filing a lawsuit due to waiver provisions, you are now covered under NJLAD. Lastly, if your employer has retaliated against you for not obeying waiver provisions, they may be liable for paying reasonable attorney fees and costs.
The bottom line is, if you are an employee in New Jersey and have waived your rights and remedies in relation to discrimination, harassment, or retalitation claims you are now protected by the amended NJLAD. If you have more questions, David Kaplan has dedicated his 30 year legal career to defending victims of workplace discrimination. His expertise and passion for justice makes him the ideal attorney for your discrimiantion case. For more information or a free case evaluation visit his website or check out his Instagram.