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AG Platkin, Division on Civil Rights Take Enforcement Action to Combat LGBTQIA+ Discrimination

TRENTON — Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) announced today that DCR has issued Findings of Probable Cause in three cases alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD).

The Findings of Probable Cause include two cases alleging employment discrimination – one on the basis of sexual orientation, and the other on the basis of gender identity or expression.  A third case involves alleged gender identity or expression discrimination.

“In New Jersey, we are committed to protecting LGBTQIA+ individuals from discrimination, including discrimination at work or as a customer at a restaurant,” said Attorney General Platkin. “The findings we are announcing today reflect our continued commitment to ensuring that no one is mistreated because of their gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.”

“Too often, members of the LGBTQIA+ community in New Jersey face discrimination in their communities and their places of work.  But our laws are clear: discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression is illegal in New Jersey,” said DCR Director Sundeep Iyer.  “We remain committed to enforcing those protections against employers and businesses that discriminate against our LGBTQIA+ residents.”

In one case, a teacher at a school in Monmouth County was told they could not talk with students about their gender identity. They were also told that they could not wear a pin that listed their preferred pronouns in order to avoid being misgendered after they came out as non-binary. DCR’s investigation found sufficient evidence to support a reasonable suspicion that the school discriminated against the teacher because of their gender identity and/or expression.  The investigation also found probable cause to support the teacher’s allegation that the school unlawfully retaliated against the teacher for alleging discrimination when the school ended the teacher’s employment almost two months prior to the effective date of the teacher’s resignation.

In a second case, a gay man alleged that his employer, a restaurant with multiple locations across New Jersey, subjected him to a hostile work environment based on his sexual orientation.  The employee alleged that when he requested that his manager approve his request for medical leave for a scheduled surgery, the manager asked if the employee was going to have a sex change operation and “cut it off.” The employee then requested and received a demotion so that he could be transferred to a different restaurant location where he would not have to interact with the manager who made the offensive comment. The employee, however, was terminated once a management official at the new location that he wanted to be transferred to learned that he was scheduled for a medical leave of absence.  DCR’s investigation found probable cause that the restaurant violated the LAD by denying the employee the transfer to the new restaurant because of his upcoming medical leave and subjected him to a hostile work environment in light of his manager’s demeaning and disparaging comments.

In the third case, a restaurant in Monmouth County refused service to a non-binary patron because the restaurant staff believed the patron did not comply with the restaurant’s gender binary dress code, which prevented men from wearing sleeveless shirts while not similarly restricting women. The restaurant staff acknowledged that the patron had on previous occasions informed staff that they were non-binary. Despite this, the restaurant insisted that the patron adhere to the restaurant’s rules for men’s clothing. DCR’s investigation found probable cause that the restaurant violated the LAD’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression.

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DCR is the state agency responsible for preventing and eliminating discrimination and bias-based harassment in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation (e.g., places open to the public like schools, businesses, hospitals, etc.). DCR enforces the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), the New Jersey Family Leave Act, and the Fair Chance in Housing Act (FCHA).

To find out more information, go to www.njcivilrights.gov.

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