In New Jersey, federal protection is not as important on account of the strong State measures to eradicate the cancer of discrimination in the workplace. This is mostly included in the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. In New York, where the State law is not as strong, employees generally look to federal law for protection. The significant distinctions between the employment laws of New York and New Jersey are included in the Garbar published article.
Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (gender) and national origin. This also includes pregnancy discrimination which is considered discrimination based on sex. It also includes sexual harassment which is also considered discrimination based on sex. It does not cover any other form of discrimination including, but not limited to, sexual orientation.
While this issue has been discussed, both legislatively and judicially, sexual orientation, under the federal law, is not considered a protected class. Title VII is applicable to businesses with 15 or more employees and the damages, for compensatory and punitive damages combined, max out at $300,000.00. Compensatory damages include damages which are more difficult to quantify, i.e., emotional distress, pain and suffering. The cap of $300,000.00 is for employers which employ 500 or more employees. Caps of $50,000.00, $100,000.00 and $200,000.00 are applicable to employers which employ 15-100 employees, 101-200 employees and 201-500 employees, respectively. Back pay (money owed to employees from the date of termination to the date of judgment) is not capped. Neither is front pay. However, both can be limited or eliminated as an award all together, if an employer can demonstrate that the employee failed to mitigate his/her damages.
In plain English, mitigation of damages means that if an employee believes he/she has been terminated from employment on account of discrimination, the employee victim must make an effort to find employment elsewhere. The law does not mandate that the victimized employee locate a job. The law mandates that the victimized employee make a reasonable effort to find a job.