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What are some examples of employment discrimination?

Most New Jersey residents are aware that there are state and federal laws that prohibit workplace discrimination against certain protected classes. For example, employers are barred from treating employees unfavorably based on matters of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin and disabilities, just to name a few.

Despite the widespread knowledge regarding protected classes, many people are surprisingly unaware that employment discrimination is often very subtle and harder to detect. Employers may actually be engaging in discriminatory practices by simply enacting certain policies that often seem fair at first glance. However, if those policies adversely impact members of certain groups, then those practices might also be considered a form of discrimination.

There are two general types of discrimination that are prohibited within the workplace. These are known as "disparate treatment" and "disparate impact" forms of discrimination. Disparate treatment is the term used to describe a situation in which an employer treats a job applicant or employee less favorably than other employees who are similarly situated based on their religion, nation of origin, color, gender identity, disability and more.

The other form of workplace discrimination occurs when certain policies or practices enacted by the employee have a discriminatory impact on individuals who are disabled or belong to a certain race, ethnic group or sex. One of the hallmarks of the so-called "disparate impact" type of discrimination is that the employer's policies and practices seem fair at first glance. Sadly, it is sometimes only noticed after the effects of disparate impact discrimination has adversely affected a worker.

Some examples of workplace discrimination are:

-- Repeatedly making fun of employees because of their accent

-- Assigning members of one ethnic group to work in a particular area

-- Paying women a different salary than male counterparts performing the same job

-- Requiring employees to perform certain tasks in order to advance which have little or nothing to do with their jobs.

If you have been subject to employment discrimination you may be entitled to seek compensation from your employer. Your New Jersey employment discrimination attorney can help you determine whether your circumstances merit a discrimination lawsuit.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs-Workplace Rights Fact Sheet" Jan. 08, 2015

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