In a recent blog post, we discussed age-related discrimination in the workplace, and the subtle ways in which employers often discriminate against employees based on their age.
The New Jersey government is acknowledging the frequency and ramifications of age discrimination by expanding state laws to cover age-related discrimination.
Expanding protections in New Jersey Law Against Discrimination
Previously, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) prohibited discrimination based only on the following characteristics:
- National origin
- Gender identity or expression
- Sexual orientation
While the previous law also covered “other protected characteristics including age,” the latest bill will expand protections against age-related discrimination.
More specifically, the bill will prohibit:
- Enforcing mandatory retirement for state or government employees
- Forcing workers at higher education institutions to retire at a certain age
- Refusing to promote or hire workers for being over 70
Sponsors of the bill say that the expansion of protections is necessary to protect workers who should be the ones to decide when they wish to stop working.
Older workers still face challenges
Despite these important legislative changes, workers can still be victims of discrimination. Employers do not typically come out and say they are not hiring someone because of their age. Rather, discrimination will likely occur more subtly by, for example, the use of derogatory phrases, failing to train older employees, or moving older employees to nonessential roles.
Thus, workers concerned about age discrimination in the workplace will want to take steps to protect themselves from this mistreatment.
What can workers do?
First, keep in mind that numerous companies value experienced workers. Whether you are heading back into the workforce after a break or looking for a change, you can start by looking at lists like this one, which highlights companies that rate high in friendliness to older colleagues.
No person should be punished or looked at unfavorably because of traits they cannot change, like their age. Hopefully, expanded legislation and greater visibility of the issue will help minimize this type of misconduct.
If you believe your employer is currently mistreating workers over 40, you should contact an experienced attorney to discuss your legal options.