The NJLAD is a New Jersey law that protects employees and job applicants from disability discrimination. It covers New Jersey employers from the private sector and state and local government. To receive protections, employees must meet certain requirements. The NJLAD definition of disability is much broader than that of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Disability under NJLAD includes:
- Physical disability, infirmity, malformation, or disfigurement.
- Physical illness or disease.
- Non-physical impairments: Mental, psychological, or developmental disability that either 1) prevents the normal exercise of any bodily or mental functions or 2) can be shown to exist through clinical or diagnostic tests.
- Paralysis, amputation, epilepsy, visual/hearing impairments, speech impediments, AIDS, HIV infection, and blood traits.
NJLAD applies to businesses with as few as one employee, unlike the ADA, which only applies to employers with at least 15 employees.
You still must meet job qualifications and be able to do essential job tasks. You can ask for a reasonable accommodation for a disability to perform those tasks or apply for a job, which the employer should provide unless it creates an undue hardship. In rare cases, an employer can deny employment where a disability creates a significant risk that you would harm yourself or others. Some rights under NJLAD include:
- You cannot be excluded from applying for a job, being trained or promoted, or getting other employee work benefits because of disability.
- You have a right to reasonable accommodations, such as making facilities readily accessible, restructuring the job or modifying work schedules, acquiring or modifying equipment, and reassigning you to another position.
- You are protected from termination because of disability in cases where you can perform your job’s essential tasks with or without reasonable accommodations.
There are some exceptions to these rules.
How to file a NJLAD Claim
You can choose whether to file an administrative claim with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, or you can file a lawsuit in state court. NJLAD administrative claims must normally be filed within 180 days of the violation. NJLAD lawsuits in state court must normally be filed within two years of the violation. If you file an administrative claim and the Division on Civil Rights issues a finding of no cause to believe there was discrimination, you no longer have the option of filing a lawsuit in state court.
Some private employers, unions, and most state agency employers have additional internal complaint or grievance processes for complaints of disability discrimination. Filing such internal complaints usually does not stop the 180-day deadline from running for you to file an NJLAD charge with the NJ Division on Civil Rights, or the two year deadline to file a NJLAD lawsuit. Be careful to avoid losing your rights.
You may choose to “dual file” administrative claims under the NJLAD and the ADA at the same time. The state and federal agencies involved have an agreement that allows this dual filing in just one application.
The best way to start an NJLAD administrative claim is to contact your local NJ Division on Civil Rights office. You may wish to get an attorney. For more information, please consult the following resources:
This information last reviewed 1/18/12.