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New Jersey Removes Age Discrimination Claim Limitations to Protect Employees 70 Years Old or Older
In order to provide further protections to New Jersey’s aging workforce, on October 5, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law amendments to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), expanding state law protection against age discrimination for those employees by:
- Prohibiting employers from refusing to hire or promote employees over age 70 because of their age;
- Prohibiting institutions of higher education from requiring tenured employees to retire at 70 years old; and
- expanding the available remedies to claimants beyond reinstatement and back pay, to include all remedies available under the NJLAD, such as front pay, emotional distress damages, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.
Prior to the amendments, the NJLAD had a “safe harbor” that allowed employers to not hire or promote employees who were over the age of 70. These amendments are significant given the aging population and employees retiring at older ages. Moreover, these amendments may significantly increase employers’ exposure for liability for age discrimination.
To avoid these consequences, New Jersey employers must ensure their employment decisions are now based on qualifications and other legitimate business reasons, and not on based solely upon the employee’s age. The NJLAD applies to businesses of all sizes, regardless of the number of employees. Employers should review their employment handbooks, policies and practices to ensure compliance.
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