On October 5, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law amendments to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) that significantly expand causes of action available to older workers. While NJLAD has always prohibited age-based discrimination in employment, the new amendments create a new private right of action for forced retirement claims and eliminates a safe harbor provision which limited damages and gave small businesses more flexibility to manage their workforces.
Prior to the amendments, NJLAD provided no private right of action for forced retirement claims. Instead, plaintiff-employees were only permitted to bring forced retirement claims by submitting a complaint to the Office of the Attorney General. Following the amendments, plaintiff-employees may now either bring standalone forced retirement lawsuits, or include forced retirement causes of action with other discrimination claims under NJLAD. This portion of the amendments will likely significantly increase claims brought against businesses, both in the number of age discrimination lawsuits and the scope of other discrimination claims.
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