This past week, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination expanded to provide employment protections for those over the age of 70. The amendment signed by Governor Phil Murphy on October 5th is geared towards both current workers and job applicants.
Though the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) has a well-deserved reputation for offering some of the most expansive job discrimination protections in the nation, it had previously fallen short of federal requirements in terms of the remedies available to those over the age of 70. Bill A-681 has addressed this by both eliminating employer immunity from age discrimination claims for failure to hire applicants or promote employees over the age of 70, and providing employees the right to pursue action against mandatory retirement age requirements using all of the remedies available under NJLAD.
Before the amendment was passed, New Jersey law explicitly omitted those over the age of 70 from rules prohibiting refusal to hire or promote them, and those who found themselves forced to retire had few options available to them. The new protections represent a significant change, and will mean that employers who choose not to hire or promote a person over 70 will likely need to prove that their decision was not discriminatory.
Notably, a clause permitting companies to require retirement or executives or those in high policy-making positions within a two-year period prior to retirement age if they are entitled to an “immediate non-forfeitable annual retirement benefit from a pension, profit sharing, savings or deferred retirement plan, or any combination of those plans, of the employer of that employee which equals in the aggregate at least $27,000”, remains in place and was not addressed by the amendment. This will likely create some confusion for employees who are in this elevated position.
If you are over the age of 70 and you have been passed over for a job or promotion as a result of your age, you may be able to pursue legal action. For help determining your rights and options, contact our employment discrimination law firm today to set up a time to discuss your situation.